- The Washington Times - Friday, December 24, 2004

ANNAPOLIS (AP) — Days before a special session to address medical malpractice reform legislation, Democratic House Speaker Michael E. Busch has removed a top ally of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, from a committee that will consider the issue.

Mr. Busch on Thursday reassigned Delegate Anthony O’Donnell, the House minority whip from southern Maryland, from the Judiciary Committee to the Appropriations Committee, according to the Baltimore Sun. The special session is scheduled to start Tuesday.

“I think the speaker is moving me off there so I can’t be a strong voice on medical malpractice,” Mr. O’Donnell said. “I think it’s very curious that after 10 years on the House Judiciary Committee, two days before a special session, I’m removed from the lead committee on medical malpractice reform and placed on another committee.”

The 22-member committee on medical malpractice has seven Republicans.

Replacing Mr. O’Donnell is Delegate Michael Smigiel Sr., an Eastern Shore Republican and a member of the Maryland Trial Lawyers Association.

“I see no benefit to the people of Maryland from playing politics with these positions,” Mr. Smigiel said.

Mr. Busch, Anne Arundel Democrat, has authority over committee assignments. He said the medical malpractice legislation wasn’t a factor in the moves. “I believe these reassignments better reflect the talents and knowledge areas of these individual legislators,” Mr. Busch said.

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