Del. Kumar P. Barve (D-Dist. 17) is leaving his seat in the Maryland House of Delegates to join Gov. Wes Moore’s administration as a member of the Maryland Public Service Commission.
Barve represents parts of Rockville and Gaithersburg.
His vacancy will represent the fifth time this year that Montgomery County’s Democratic Central Committee will select a nominee to fill a General Assembly seat for the vast majority of a four-year term.
Barve has served in the House since 1991 and has chaired the Environment and Transportation Committee since 2015. He served as Democratic House Majority Leader from 2003-2015. Barve sponsored several climate change laws focusing on environmental regulation, energy generation, energy conservation, and greenhouse gas reduction. He was a central player in closing corporate tax loopholes and changing Maryland’s tax code to be more progressive.
“I am confident in Delegate Barve’s ability to bolster my administration’s commitment to environmental stewardship while ensuring ratepayers are protected,” Moore said in a statement Thursday.
The Public Service Commission regulates public utilities and certain passenger transportation companies doing business in Maryland.
The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee will be tasked with appointing a replacement for Barve. The county’s Central Committee members, who are elected at-large or in legislative districts, vote on who will fill the legislative vacancies, and send their recommendations to the governor to approve as a formality.
This is the fifth time the committee will go through this process this legislative session.
Former District 16 Del. Ariana Kelly has been appointed to the District 16 Senate seat, which became vacant after former Sen. Susan Lee was named secretary of state for Maryland by Gov. Wes Moore on Jan. 10. As a result of Kelly’s selection to the Senate, she vacated her House seat, and the committee appointed Sarah Wolek, former chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, to the seat last month.
Bernice Mireku-North was nominated to fill a vacant seat in District 14 of the House of Delegates in January, after former Del. Eric Luedtke resigned the seat to become Moore’s chief legislative officer.
This week, the committee is holding a forum for applicants to fill Del. Kirill Reznik’s seat. Reznik (D-Dist. 39) also left the General Assembly for the Moore administration, to serve as the new assistant secretary for inter-departmental data Integration for the state Department of Human Services.
Thirteen of the current 34 state delegates and senators in Montgomery County applied through the MCDCC appointment process to get to their post, according to an analysis by MoCo360. Of those, Del. Aaron Kaufman (D-Dist. 18) is an outlier, because he was placed on the 2022 primary election ballot and faced election, instead of Al Carr, a former delegate. Carr had dropped out of the District 18 House of Delegates race at the filing deadline, to pursue the County Council District 4 seat (his bid was unsuccessful). All the other legislators served some time in legislative session in Annapolis before facing voters in their districts for elections, MoCo360 reported.
For years, legislative reforms calling for a special elections model have failed to pass in Annapolis, preserving a system where Democratic and Republican central committees across Maryland have tremendous power in who gets to fill delegate and state senate seats. Democratic central committees pick whenever the seat was last vacated by a Democrat, and Republican committees do the same for Republicans. Good-government advocates, some central committee members and several state legislators have criticized the process as less democratic than special elections would be.