Senate leadership is swapping the committee assignments of two Maryland senators — a move that should help move a proposal for offshore wind power through the legislature.
Prince George’s Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D-Dist. 26) of Fort Washington confirmed Thursday that he is moving from the Senate Finance Committee to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. Muse will replace Sen. Victor R. Ramirez (D-Dist. 47) of Cheverly, who will take Muse’s spot on Finance.
Muse has opposed Gov. Martin O’Malley’s plans to develop offshore wind power off the coast of Ocean City, citing concerns about the increased cost to consumers and minority business participation. He said the switch will “stack the committee” in favor of the wind power bill.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Dist. 27) of Chesapeake Beach said recently that he would adjust committee assignments if necessary. While he could not immediately be reached for comment before The Gazette’s deadline, he told The Washington Post on Thursday that getting wind power through the committee to the Senate floor was one of the reasons for the switch.
Muse said he was told that he would be moved from the Finance Committee for a year, but could be moved back after that. He said he wouldn’t necessarily oppose the offshore wind bill this year, but couldn’t give a definite answer until he had seen the legislation.
“This doesn’t set a good precedent,” Muse said. “If they can just start switching people around anytime they want the votes, [then] we’re all useless there.”
Adjustments to committee rosters are usually made every couple of years, often after an election. Muse himself was moved to Finance from Judicial Proceedings in January 2011.
That switch helped ensure the passage of same-sex marriage by Judicial Proceedings later that session.
Ramirez said he would approach the wind power issue with an open mind.
“It’s an important bill, but we have a lot of other pieces of legislation that we need to address as well,” Ramirez said.