Baltimore Del. Maggie L. McIntosh was named yesterday to lead a powerful committee, giving the city a second chairmanship in the House of Delegates despite its reduced representation in the General Assembly.
The promotion of McIntosh, who had been majority leader, is part of a significant reorganization of the House Democratic leadership engineered by the incoming speaker, Del. Michael E. Busch of Annapolis.
McIntosh, who has served in the House since 1992, will lead the House Environmental Matters Committee - the panel that reviews legislation affecting the health of the Chesapeake Bay. She joins Appropriations Committee Chairman Howard P. Rawlings as Baltimore delegates who will lead standing committees.
The McIntosh appointment was one of several made by Busch to reflect the changing face of a Democratic caucus in which women and African-Americans are playing an increasingly powerful role.
Busch, who was nominated by his fellow Democrats last week to succeed defeated Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., also named a second African-American committee chairman. Del. Dereck E. Davis, a third-term lawmaker from Prince George's County, will take over the Economic Matters Committee.
In a move that could dismay what remains of the dwindling group of rural Democrats, Busch abolished a committee led by Southern Maryland's Del. John F. Wood Jr. His Commerce and Government Matters Committee will be replaced by a new panel devoted to health care and transportation issues. Wood will be given co-chairmanship of a joint committee that reviews regulations issued by the executive branch.
The new committee will be led by Montgomery County's Del. John A. Hurson, who now heads Environmental Matters. The move consolidates control over health issues - previously split between two committees - into a single powerful panel.
The House's senior Asian-American, Montgomery County's Del. Kumar P. Barve, will gain new prominence as the majority leader under Busch. The position's duties are largely procedural, but the majority leader's job has been a springboard to committee chairmanships for Hurson and McIntosh.
In addition to Rawlings, committee leaders returning in their current roles are Prince George's County Del. Joseph F. Vallario Jr. at Judiciary and Montgomery County's Sheila E. Hixson at Ways and Means.
The changes allow Busch to put his stamp on an institution that has had a logjam of talented legislators unable to advance because of the relative stability of Taylor and his leadership team over the past nine years.
Busch's new lineup ensures that Baltimore will have strong representation in the House leadership even though its delegation dwindled from 24 resident delegates, to 18.