Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman took to the podium shortly before noon Friday to unveil the state Senate’s new committee lineups for the biennium. The Senate’s Committee on Committees, which includes Zuckerman, Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe (D/P-Chittenden) and Sen. Dick Mazza (D-Grand Isle), worked out the assignments behind closed doors.
Two committees will have new leadership. Sen. Ann Cummings (D-Washington) is the new chair of the Senate Finance Committee, replacing Ashe; and Sen. Philip Baruth (D-Chittenden) replaces Cummings as chair of the Senate Education Committee.
It’s a second chance at Finance for Cummings, who chaired the influential committee during the 2011-2012 session. At the end of that year, she launched a campaign to displace then-president pro tem John Campbell; after he was re-elected, Cummings lost her Finance post.
Other committee chairs were reappointed. And there were no shakeups in jurisdiction, unlike in the House, where the Natural Resources and Energy Committee was disbanded and its duties split between two other committees.
Some key panels will shift to the left, partly because there are two fewer Republicans in the new Senate. Anthony Pollina (P/D-Washington) gets a seat on Finance; the Natural Resources and Energy Committee consists of four Democrats and one Democrat/Progressive, and only one member, John Rodgers, (D-Essex/Orleans) is an opponent of ridgeline wind. The Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs Committee retains Kevin Mullin (R-Rutland) as chair, but its other four members are liberal Democrats.
Ashe claimed a pair of high-profile spots for himself: He will serve on the Appropriations and Judiciary committees.
The losers in the process include veteran Sen. Ginny Lyons (D-Chittenden), who lobbied for a chairmanship but failed; and newcomers Carolyn Branagan (R-Franklin) and Francis Brooks (D-Washington), who were shuffled off to the relatively low-profile Agriculture and Institutions committees.