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Political Notes: House leadership moves, Hoyer’s new role, Cardin’s SOTU guest, and more

The Great Seal of the State of Maryland on the front of the Maryland State House. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

Alonzo Washington’s exit from the House of Delegates for the Maryland Senate has prompted yet another series of changes on State House scorecards.

Del. Jheanelle Wilkins (D-Montgomery) will replace Washington as vice chair of the Ways and Means Committee, House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) announced Tuesday.

Wilkins, the recently elected chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, had been the House parliamentarian, but Stephanie M. Smith (D-Baltimore City) now steps up to that position, Jones said. Smith, who chairs the Baltimore City House delegation, is chair of the Appropriations Committee’s Education and Economic Development Subcommittee.

Also on the Ways and Means Committee, Del. Eric D. Ebersole (D-Baltimore County) ascends to chair the Education Subcommittee, and Del. Julie Palakovich-Carr (D-Montgomery) now chairs the Early Childhood Subcommittee. Although Palakovich-Carr chairs the Montgomery County House delegation, this is her first position in House leadership.

Sen. Washington (D-Prince George’s) was sworn into the Senate on Monday evening and has been assigned to the Judicial Proceedings Committee.

Also on Tuesday, the Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee announced that candidates interested in the vacant House of Delegates seat to represent District 22 have until 5 p.m. Sunday to apply.

So far, Rush Baker, Ashanti Martinez and Molly McKee-Seabrook expressed interest in seeking the committee’s approval to replace Washington.

Candidates must reside in the district that includes Hyattsville, New Carrollton and Riverdale.

A public hearing will be held at 5 p.m. Feb. 9, but the location has not been determined.

After the committee’s selection, that person’s name will be forwarded to Gov. Wes Moore (D), who will have about 15 days to confirm the appointment.

Washington’s replacement in the House would serve alongside Dels. Nicole Williams (D) and Anne Healey (D), who also represent the district.

The county’s central committee unanimously chose Washington last month to fill the Senate vacancy left after long-time Sen. Paul Pinsky (D) was picked by Moore to lead the Maryland Energy Administration.

Washington participated in his first meeting of the Judicial Proceedings Committee on Tuesday.

The panel awaits one more committee member to replace former Sen. Susan Lee (D-Montgomery), who Moore chose as his appointee for secretary of State.

Del. Ariana Kelley (D), currently vice chair of the House Health and Government Operations Committee, plans to apply for the vacancy to represent District 16 in the Bethesda area.

Candidates who want to seek the seat must apply by 5 p.m. Thursday to the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee. A candidate forum is planned for Feb. 8 and a special meeting of the central committee will take place Feb. 14.

Hoyer to head new Dem council

Rep Steny Hoyer (D) has a new gig after upheaval within party leadership in the U.S. House.

The 42-year House veteran, who until recently was House majority leader, will chair a newly created Democratic Regional Leadership Council. The goal of the 13-member panel will be to promote successful implementation of party priorities, including policies stemming from the $1 trillion infrastructure bill and Inflation Reduction Act.

The panel also expands the party’s leadership team and will keep Hoyer in close contact with the Biden White House.

“Democrats are bound by our shared purpose to ensure that American workers have the tools they need to compete and succeed in the 21st century economy,” Hoyer said in a statement. “We worked to advance that mission last Congress, passing landmark legislation to help our nation weather an unprecedented global pandemic and to rebuild our economy stronger and more resilient than ever before.”

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York), the new House minority leader, said it is critical that bills passed by the Democratic majority last term “are brought to life in every corner throughout America.”

He said the panel will “focus like a laser beam on executing President Biden’s vision of investing in America.”

“I thank Leader Hoyer and our twelve distinguished colleagues for undertaking the responsibility of helping to make sure that successful implementation occurs, public awareness of our legislative accomplishments increases and meaningful change is realized in all 212 congressional districts represented by House Democrats,” Jeffries said in a statement.

Bucket list

It’ll be a few days yet before we get the full list of guests that members of Maryland’s congressional delegation have invited to President Biden’s State of the Union address, scheduled for next Tuesday night.

But we got a preview this week courtesy of Del. Carl Jackson (D-Baltimore County): He’s going as the guest of U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.).

How did this come about?

Simple. Jackson asked.

“I asked a year ago but because of COVID, there was some question about whether they could invite any guests,” Jackson recounted. “So when I ran into Sen. Cardin recently, I asked again.”

Jackson couldn’t contain his excitement about getting the green light.

Attending a State of the Union speech “is actually on my bucket list,” he said.

As the lobbying world turns

Candace Dodson-Reed, who spent the last several years as chief of staff to the president of University of Maryland Baltimore County, is changing roles at the university and is becoming vice president for Government Relations and Community Affairs.

“While Candace has filled many roles at UMBC, including Chief of Staff to the President, we agree that UMBC’s relationships with community partners and policymakers in Annapolis and Washington, D.C. have never been more important, and now require the full-time attention of an experienced leader with a wide network,” UMBC President Valerie Sheares Ashby said in a statement this week. “I look forward to benefiting from Candace’s wise counsel on all matters of public policy and legislative affairs.”

Dodson-Reed has been a fixture in the Maryland political and policy scene for several years, including working as a vice president at the Greater Baltimore Committee and as deputy chief of staff to former Howard County Executive Ken Ulman (D). She is also a co-founder of the Elevate Maryland podcast and is the campaign treasurer to Comptroller Brooke Lierman (D), among many other roles.

Meanwhile, a veteran of the Annapolis lobbying corps has started with a new firm. A year after winding down his own law and lobbying practice, John Andryszak has signed on as a lobbyist with Kress Hammen Government Affairs.

Andryszak has represented corporate clients in Annapolis for the past two decades, with clients ranging from the cannabis industry to surety. But his primary areas of expertise are property and casualty insurance and energy generation.

“Jack will help us round out our coverage of any insurance related matter, and I’m excited for our clients to have the benefit of policy acumen and experience,” Peter Hammen, one of the firm’s partners, said in a statement.


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Political Notes: House leadership moves, Hoyer’s new role, Cardin’s SOTU guest, and more