- The Washington Times - Monday, January 22, 2001

ANNAPOLIS The Senate Executive Nominations Committee will question some of Gov. Parris N. Glendening's appointees for state office today, and, for a change, there may be a bit of fireworks.

Former U.S. Attorney Lynne Battaglia is expected to face some unfriendly questions when the committee takes up her appointment as a judge on the Maryland Court of Appeals.

"I have serious questions about her qualifications and abilities for what is Maryland's Supreme Court," said Sen. Timothy Ferguson, Carroll Republican.

"This is, practically speaking, a lifetime appointment to our highest court, and the governor has nominated an individual who has never had one day of service on any judicial bench," he said.

Mrs. Battaglia was appointed U.S. attorney for Maryland in 1993 by President Clinton. During her tenure, she has feuded with Republicans over the way her office has handled violation of federal gun laws by criminals.

But Mr. Ferguson said his questions will focus on her background and qualifications to be one of the seven judges on the state's highest court.

Hearings on gubernatorial appointments are usually friendly affairs in Maryland with nominees facing only cursory questioning.

Mrs. Battaglia's appearance will be one of the highlights of what is likely to be a slow legislative week now that opening day, the presentation of the budget and Democratic Gov. Glendening's State of the State Address are out of the way.

Members of the Senate and House of Delegates budget committees will get their first in-depth look at the governor's budget tomorrow, when they get a briefing from their fiscal analysts.

Lawmakers are not happy that the $21.3 billion budget is $234 million above their self-imposed spending limit.

Budget committees have to cut that amount just to get down to their limit. They have to cut even more if they want to free up money for some of their own favorite programs.

Mr. Glendening will submit the second part of his budget to the legislature on Wednesday. The capital budget provides money to buy land and to build and equip buildings.

Skunks will be on the agenda for the House Environmental Matters Committee tomorrow when delegates hear testimony on a bill to allow the animals to be kept as pets in Maryland.

Skunk lovers say they make great pets but only after surgery to remove the glands that produce the odor skunks use to protect themselves against predators.

Members of the House Commerce and Government Matters Committee will get an update on the steps state agencies are taking to correct voter registration problems that surfaced in the 2000 elections.

Problems arose when voters moving from one county to another went to Motor Vehicle Administration offices to change information for drivers' licenses and license tags.

People who also filled out forms for voting registration were removed from voter rolls in their old counties and, in some cases, did not realize they had to reregister in their new counties.

Officials from the state election board and the Motor Vehicle Administration will brief committee members on what they have done to make sure problems are corrected before the 2002 elections.

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