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Md. Senate Delays Vote on Executive Nominations

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 ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The Maryland Senate delayed voting on four of Gov. Larry Hogan's cabinet appointments on Friday, as Democrats who control the chamber continue to express displeasure about the Republican governor's State of the State speech and his budget proposal.
    
The decision holds up confirmation votes for a week on the governor's first five cabinet positions to come before the Senate. Hogan's speech Wednesday has been heavily criticized by Democrats, who said it painted a dire and unfounded picture of Maryland's economy. The delay comes after the Senate panel that initially reviews nominations gave a favorable report to the full Senate on Monday.
    
"We heard the speech 48 hours later, and that kind of set the tone for us utilizing, in a more effective manner, the advise and consent powers that the founders of the state entrusted us with," Sen. Nathaniel McFadden, D-Baltimore, said.
    
David Brinkley, Hogan's choice for budget secretary, and Van Mitchell, the governor's nominee to head the state health department, had been up for a Senate vote Friday. David Craig, who is Hogan's pick to lead the Maryland Department of Planning, and Kelly Schulz, his selection to head the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, also were up for a vote. George Owings, Hogan's choice to head the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs, also was up for a vote.
    
McFadden said senators approached him with concerns immediately after Hogan's speech. He declined to mention them.
    
As Hogan addressed a joint session of the Legislature, he said Maryland had a "floundering" economy. The new governor also said Maryland's "anti-business attitude, combined with our onerous tax and regulatory policies have rendered our state unable to compete with any of the states in our region."
    
Democrats say the speech has marred talk of bipartisanship between the new governor and the Legislature, which is controlled by Democrats.
    
Doug Mayer, a spokesman for Hogan, said Friday the governor remains committed to working in a bipartisan fashion.
    
"The fact is, many great accomplishments have only been achieved after tough negotiations, and that is exactly what we are expecting the outcome to be here as well," Mayer said.
    
McFadden said Hogan's budget plan also concerns Democrats, who hold a 33-14 majority in the Senate. The governor's budget calls for a 2 percent, across-the-board cut for state agencies. The cuts have not been specified, and that has raised concern about who will be in charge of state agencies.
    
"He continued to emphasize we can do better when making decisions and choices, and that falls not only to us, but those who represent the various agencies," McFadden said.
    
McFadden also said Democrats are concerned about the governor's decision not to continue a cost-of-living adjustment for state employees in the next fiscal year.
    
Sen. Jamie Raskin, who chairs the Senate Executive Nominations Committee, said senators wanted more details about policies from new cabinet secretaries "in light of the changed circumstances of the week."
    
"The temperature has gone up in the city of Annapolis this week," Raskin, D-Montgomery, said.



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