Klaus­meier leads Se­nate as she steps in for Miller

Fri­day saw women pre­side over both cham­bers of state’s Gen­eral Assem­bly

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Pamela Wood

Bal­ti­more County’s Kathy Klaus­meier presided over the state Se­nate for the first time Fri­day, sub­sti­tut­ing for Pres­i­dent Thomas V. Mike Miller as he un­der­went chemo­ther­apy treat­ment.

Klaus­meier is the new pres­i­dent pro tem­pore of the state Se­nate, and Miller’s rev­e­la­tion this week that he has prostate cancer means she’s been thrust into car­ry­ing out the du­ties of the cham­ber’s pre­sid­ing of­fi­cer.

For Klaus­meier’s first time at the ros­trum, the Se­nate had a light agenda of rou­tine items, such as in­tro­duc­tions of bills.

But Sen. Nancy King, a Mont­gomery County Demo­crat, noted that Klaus­meier’s work had his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance.

“I do have a re­ally neat ob­ser­va­tion,” King said. “I think this is the first time in his­tory that we have a woman pre­sid­ing in the House and the Se­nate this morn­ing.” Her re­marks were met with ap­plause.

Across the hall, the House of Del­e­gates ses­sion was led by Speaker Pro Tem Adri­enne Jones, a Demo­cratic del­e­gate from Bal­ti­more County. Jones was fill­ing in for House Speaker Michael Busch, who had a doc­tor’s ap­point­ment.

Klaus­meier is just the sec­ond woman to serve as pres­i­dent pro tem, ac­cord­ing to Miller’s of­fice. The first, Ida Ruben of Mont­gomery County, held the post from 2000 to 2007.

Ex­pe­ri­enced politi­cian

Klaus­meier, 68, has rep­re­sented Bal­ti­more County in the Gen­eral Assem­bly since 1995.

She was elected to the House of Del­e­gates in the 1994 elec­tion. At the time, her dis­trict in­cluded parts of the county and the city of Bal­ti­more.

In 2002, Klaus­meier won elec­tion to the Se­nate, and she’s been re-elected ever since. Her dis­trict cur­rently in­cludes com­mu­ni­ties such as Over­lea, Parkville, Perry Hall, Rosedale and White Marsh.

The Repub­li­can Party tar­geted Klaus­meier last year in its un­suc­cess­ful “Drive for Five” at­tempt to break the Democrats’ veto-proof ma­jor­ity in the Se­nate. The GOP put up for­mer Del­e­gate Chris­tian Miele, seen by many as a ris­ing star in the party, against Klaus­meier.

Klaus­meier piv­oted to­ward the cen­ter dur­ing the elec­tion. One pro-Klaus­meier mailer fea­tured a pic­ture of her with Repub­li­can Gov. Larry Ho­gan — an at­tempt to show her bi­par­ti­san­ship and ap­peal to Repub­li­can vot­ers.

Klaus­meier pre­vailed over Miele, 51 per­cent to 49 per­cent.

El­e­vated to lead­er­ship

When sen­a­tors re­turned this week to work. Klaus­meier rose to the lead­er­ship po­si­tion of Se­nate pres­i­dent pro tem.

Be­fore that, Klaus­meier was chair­woman of the Rules Com­mit­tee. That com­mit­tee, among other things, makes de­ci­sions on whether to ac­cept bills in­tro­duced late in the ses­sion and as­signs them to the com­mit­tees that will re­view them.

As pres­i­dent pro tem, Klaus­meier will fill in for Miller in lead­ing Se­nate floor ses­sions in his ab­sence. That in­volves pre­sid­ing from a ros­trum at the front of the cham­ber, call­ing on sen­a­tors dur­ing de­bate, call­ing for votes and manag­ing the flow of bills and amend­ments, with the help of clerks and sec­re­taries.

The pre­vi­ous pres­i­dent pro tem, thenSen. Nathaniel McFad­den of Bal­ti­more, was de­feated in last year’s elec­tions. Miller oc­ca­sion­ally had McFad­den pre­side over the Se­nate so he could step away for a meet­ing or ob­serve the pro­ceed­ings from his dis­trict seat on the floor of the cham­ber.

Klaus­meier grew up in Bal­ti­more County. Her hus­band owns and op­er­ates Klaus­meier & Sons Auto Re­pair in Not­ting­ham.

For 30 years, Klaus­meier worked as a child life co­or­di­na­tor at what is now the Univer­sity of Mary­land St. Joseph Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Tow­son.

She says her first foray into pub­lic ser­vice was serv­ing as PTA pres­i­dent for Gun­pow­der Ele­men­tary School in Not­ting­ham.

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