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Senate confirms 2 Public Service Commission members

ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland Senate has voted to confirm two nominees to the state’s Public Service Commission.

The Senate voted 40-7 on Friday to confirm Kevin Hughes and Kelly Speakes-Backman to the five-member commission. They were appointed by Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Hughes served as O’Malley’s deputy legislative officer and Speakes-Backman worked as the clean energy director at the Maryland Energy Administration.

Sen. E.J. Pipkin, R-Cecil, says he doesn’t believe they are independent enough to serve on an important regulatory board. He says they were O’Malley’s “two chief leaders” on his offshore wind proposal and worked hard to advance it before the board.

But supporters say it’s appropriate for the PSC to engage with the executive branch or lawmakers on legislation. They say the nominees are highly qualified to serve on the commission.