Transportation Secretary says public-private partnership aided Port

A big shipping container company signed on at the Port of Baltimore Friday, and Transportation Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley used the opportunity to further laud the importance of public-private partnerships in Maryland.

Germany-based Hapag-Lloyd, the fifth-largest container shipping company in the world, is starting weekly service to the Port, a Maryland Port Administration statement said.

The new business could create as many as 600 jobs in Maryland and –  according to Swaim-Staley — is thanks to a partnership the state entered into with Ports America Chesapeake, which runs day-to-day operations at the Seagirt Marine Terminal.

The company is also constructing a 50-foot berth to capitalize on the Panama Canal expansion, the statement said, and the improvement was a key factor in luring Hapag-Lloyd.

The timing couldn’t have been better for Swaim-Staley and Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is championing legislation that would create rules to govern public-private partnerships, like the one at Seagirt.

“The Seagirt port has been a  national model in how to do public-private partnerships,” Swaim-Staley said in a Environmental Matters Committee hearing on the legislation Friday afternoon.

Md. Speaker Busch makes House committee appointments

The leadership of the House committees that oversee taxes and legal issues will have a new look in the 2011 legislative session, according to committee rosters Speaker Michael E. Busch, D-Anne Arundel, released Wednesday.

Del. Samuel I. “Sandy” Rosenberg, who had been vice-chairman of the Judiciary Committee since 2004, will take the equivalent post on the Ways and Means Committee. The tax-setting committee will still be chaired by Del. Sheila E. Hixson, the Montgomery County Democrat who has held the post since 1993.

Taking Rosenberg’s position on Judiciary will be Del. Kathleen M. Dumais, D-Montgomery. The move will bring some gender balance to Judiciary after the women’s caucus criticized Chairman Joseph F. Vallario Jr. for his “tyrannical leadership.”

Dumais, who has served on Judiciary since she joined the House in 1993, was critical of the treatment of witnesses before the committee.

Del. Kathleen M. Dumais, a Montgomery County Democrat who has served on Judiciary since 2003, said some delegates “have been disrespectful” to citizens and “can get into a cross-examination mode that I don’t think is appropriate.”

But she defended the chairman as a man committed to his job and to giving everyone – committee members and citizens alike – a chance to speak out.

The committee will also have eight new members, all of them new to the General Assembly. They are:

  • Tiffany Alston, D-Prince George’s
  • Sam Arora, D-Montgomery
  • Luke Clippinger, D-Baltimore City
  • John Cluster, R-Baltimore County
  • Michael McDermott, R-Wicomico and Worcester
  • Keiffer Mitchell, D-Baltimore City
  • Neil Parrott, R-Washington
  • Geraldine Valentino-Smith, D-Prince George’s

Economic Matters, which oversees business regulation legislation, will have seven new members, all but one of them veteran lawmakers.

  • Del. Benjamin Barnes, D-Prince George’s and Anne Arundel
  • Del.-elect Steve Hershey, R-Middle Shore
  • Del. Tom Hucker, D-Montgomery
  • Del. Benjamin F. Kramer, D-Montgomery
  • Del. Steven R. Schuh, R-Anne Arundel
  • Del. Kelly Schulz, R-Frederick
  • Del. Jay Walker, D-Prince George’s