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Who is Kathy Klausmeier? Maryland Senate's second-in-command steps up during Miller's illness

Baltimore County’s Kathy Klausmeier presided over the state Senate for the first time Friday, substituting for President Thomas V. Mike Miller as he underwent chemotherapy treatment.

Klausmeier is the new president pro tempore of the state Senate, and Miller’s revelation this week that he has prostate cancer means she’s been thrust into carrying out the duties of the chamber’s presiding officer.

For Klausmeier’s first time at the rostrum, the Senate had a light agenda of routine items, such as introductions of bills.

But Sen. Nancy King, a Montgomery County Democrat, noted that Klausmeier’s work had historical significance.

“I do have a really neat observation,” King said. “I think this is the first time in history that we have a woman presiding in the House and the Senate this morning.” Her remarks were met with applause.

Across the hall, the House of Delegates session was led by Speaker Pro Tem Adrienne Jones, a Democratic delegate from Baltimore County. Jones was filling in for House Speaker Michael Busch, who had a doctor’s appointment.

Klausmeier is just the second woman to serve as president pro tem, according to Miller’s office. The first, Ida Ruben of Montgomery County, held the post from 2000 to 2007.

Experienced Politician

Klausmeier, 68, has represented Baltimore County in the General Assembly since 1995.

She was elected to the House of Delegates in the 1994 election. At the time, her district included parts of the county and the city of Baltimore.

In 2002, Klausmeier won election to the Senate, and she’s been re-elected ever since. Her district currently includes communities such as Overlea, Parkville, Perry Hall, Rosedale and White Marsh.

Fought Off Challenger

The Republican Party targeted Klausmeier last year in its unsuccessful “Drive for Five” attempt to break the Democrats’ veto-proof majority in the Senate. The GOP put up former Delegate Christian Miele, seen by many as a rising star in the party, against Klausmeier.

Klausmeier pivoted toward the center during the election. One pro-Klausmeier mailer featured a picture of her with Republican Gov. Larry Hogan — an attempt to show her bipartisanship and appeal to Republican voters.

Klausmeier prevailed over Miele, 51 percent to 49 percent.

Elevated To Leadership

When senators returned this week to work. Klausmeier rose to the leadership position of Senate president pro tem.

Before that, Klausmeier was chairwoman of the Rules Committee. That committee, among other things, makes decisions on whether to accept bills introduced late in the session and assigns them to the committees that will review them.

As president pro tem, Klausmeier will fill in for Miller in leading Senate floor sessions in his absence. That involves presiding from a rostrum at the front of the chamber, calling on senators during debate, calling for votes and managing the flow of bills and amendments, with the help of clerks and secretaries.

The previous president pro tem, then-Sen. Nathaniel McFadden of Baltimore, was defeated in last year’s elections. Miller occasionally had McFadden preside over the Senate so he could step away for a meeting or observe the proceedings from his district seat on the floor of the chamber.

Baltimore County Roots

Klausmeier grew up in Baltimore County. Her husband owns and operates Klausmeier & Sons Auto Repair in Nottingham.

For 30 years, Klausmeier worked as a child life coordinator at what is now the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson.

She says her first foray into public service was serving as PTA president for Gunpowder Elementary School in Nottingham.

pwood@baltsun.com

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