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US Senate confirms top state regulator to federal role

(AP) A member of the State Corporation Commission has been confirmed to a spot on a federal energy regulatory panel, creating a vacancy for the Democrat-controlled General Assembly to fill.

The U.S. Senate confirmed Mark Christie’s nomination to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Monday evening. Also confirmed was Allison Clements, which the commission said brings it to a full, five-member complement for the first time in nearly two years.

Both Christie and Clements were nominated by President Donald Trump.

The State Corporation Commission is an independent branch of state government with a wide range of responsibilities, including the regulation of public utilities, insurance and railroads. The three commissioners, elected by the General Assembly for six-year terms, oversee the work of hundreds of staff.

Earlier this year, Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam appointed Jehmal Hudson as a commissioner after lawmakers in the state Senate said they were unable to reach an agreement on a nominee.

Christie was first elected to the commission in 2004. A White House news release called him one of the nation’s longest-serving state utility regulators.

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