FEDS SEEKS FBI HQ DEVELOPERS: The federal government is formally seeking developers to build a new headquarters for the FBI, opening the next phase in a competition between Maryland and Virginia to land the lucrative project. The General Services Administration said Friday evening that applicants will have until Feb. 10 to submit plans for a building to accommodate some 11,000 workers, John Fritze reports for the Sun.
JOBLESS RATE DROPS: Maryland added 3,800 jobs in November, dropping the unemployment rate to 5.6%, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Adam Bednar of the Daily Record reports that the private sector was responsible for 2,800 of those jobs and has added 16,500 in the state since January.
HOGAN & THE BUDGET: In roughly 30 days, Larry Hogan will be sworn in to the governor’s office after running a campaign focused on improving the state’s business climate, reducing taxes and mending the state’s budget process that routinely yields hundreds of millions of dollars in shortfalls annually over the last decade, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily. Hogan maintains that he was sent to Annapolis with a mandate to reduce spending and right the state’s economy and business climate.
HOUSE COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS: House Speaker Michael Busch late Friday announced committee assignments for six standing committees in the House of Delegates, giving 58 new delegates the spots where they will spend most of their time as legislators, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com. Most incumbent delegates kept their current assignments, but six Democrats moved over to the Economic Matters Committee, the most shifts for any committee. The complete list follows the story.
ABOLISHING HIGH OFFICES: Political pundit Barry Rascovar, writing in MarylandReporter.com, writes that if the state isn’t going to eliminate the office of the lieutenant governor, abolish the office of secretary of state. Nearly all the functions of this office can be handled by the lieutenant governor. The secretary of state’s office contains 25 people and runs on a budget of $2.4 million.
PRETRIAL REFORMERS ON BOND: Steve Lash of the Daily Record writes that a Maryland commission on pretrial reform Friday called on the state to stop requiring people to post bond after arrest as a condition of being released from custody before trial. The Governor’s Commission to Reform Maryland’s Pretrial System called the state’s bail system inherently unfair. Low-income defendants are too often held in custody pending trial due to their inability to pay, while wealthier defendants are released because they can foot the bill, the commission stated.
RESIDENTS SAY NO TO FRACKING: While the topic of hydraulic fracturing dominated Thursday’s public meeting conducted by the District 1 legislative delegation, state Sen. George Edwards also took the opportunity to warn those in attendance to expect state funding reductions and possible program cuts with Maryland facing a structural deficit in excess of $1 billion, Greg Larry writes for the Cumberland Times News.
MVA CHANGES ON VOTER FORMS: Starting in January, Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration employees will no longer be able to select or change a voter’s political party when handling voter registrations, writes Kate Alexander for the Gazette.The change comes in response to reports of Montgomery County voters’ political party affiliations being changed, without their knowledge or consent, following a trip to the MVA.
HOGAN’S INAUGURATION: Gov.-elect Larry Hogan plans to host a “people’s celebration” next month along with more traditional formal inauguration parties, reports Erin Cox for the Sun. Hogan announced Sunday that he will hold an open house at the governor’s mansion and public receiving line after he is inaugurated on Jan. 21, plus a $100 a head event at the Baltimore Convention Center and a $25 per person event in Cambridge.
KURTZ ON HOUSE TURNOVER: In this short video discussion for Center Maryland, political columnist Josh Kurtz talks about what the November election means for changes to the House of Delegates – significant turnover, but much of the top Democratic leadership remains the same.
WHAT RECESSION? Sun columnist Dan Rodricks writes that it seems as if the Great Recession never happened — that it was an apparition, like Marley’s ghost. It clearly had no direct or dire effects on President Obama, members of Congress or the regulators at the Federal Reserve who were supposed to be watching Wall Street, including Sen. Barbara Mikulski, he writes.
DELANEY LEGISLATION: U.S. Rep John Delaney, D-Md., is making a statement with a bill that he introduced in the waning days of the current Congress, writes Kaustuv Basu for the Hagerstown Herald Mail. The Infrastructure and Global Tax Competitiveness Act, according to Delaney’s office, would strengthen America’s economy “by rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure and reforming the broken corporate tax code.”
FED FRIDAY OFF: Hundreds of thousands of federal employees will get a bonus four-day weekend, thanks to an executive order signed by President Obama this month, Erin Cox reports for the Sun.That extra day off — which Obama and other presidents have granted around Christmas in years past, when it would create a four-day holiday — follows a petition signed by more than 92,000 federal workers at whitehouse.gov.
NO RACIAL DIVERSITY ON AA JUDGESHIP LIST: A decade has passed since an African-American served on the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court — and the latest short list of nominations for judgeships may keep it that way. The list of candidates for two openings on the bench, sent to Gov. Martin O’Malley, has no minority candidates, Chase Cook reports in the Annapolis Capital. There are 11 candidates for the positions, eight men and three women. There were 12 candidates until Nancy McCutchan Duden withdrew her name. She was appointed Anne Arundel County attorney earlier this month.
SEWAGE SPILLS IN AA: The record of the Anne Arundel County Department of Public Works’ sewage system is about the best in the region when in comes to sewage spills, writes Pat Furgurson for the Annapolis Capital. If you live downstream, or downwind, of the Mill Creek sewage pumping station or in other areas plagued by line breaks, that might be hard to believe. But the numbers speak for themselves.
DEFENDING COPPIN: Coppin State President Mortimer Neufville, taking exception to a opinion piece by Barry Rascovar that appeared last Thursday in MarylandReporter.com, writes: “I bear witness to the commitment of the University System of Maryland (USM) to offer access to quality and affordable education to all of its citizens. … Students come to our campuses to be educated, enlightened and transformed. Coppin State University students are no different.”
HOWARD DELEGATION BIDS FAREWELL TO FOUR: Howard County’s delegation to the General Assembly bid farewell to departing members and welcomed new ones at its public hearing in Ellicott City Thursday night, as legislators looked forward to the start of a new session in January. Howard’s delegation is losing four of its lawmakers this year: state Sen. Jim Robey, a Democrat from District 13, and delegates Jimmy Malone, Steve DeBoy and Liz Bobo, all three Democrats from District 12, are retiring once their term ends in a few weeks.
SHIFTS IN AA CASINO FUND PANEL: Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh has changed the leadership of a panel that will advise him on how to spend millions of dollars in impact fees generated every year by the Maryland Live! casino in Hanover, writes Rick Hutzell for the Annapolis Capital.
UM GETS ULMAN FOR INCUBATOR: The University of Maryland has recruited Ken Ulman, the former Howard county executive who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor, to transform College Park into a Silicon Valley-like hub filled with incubators and start-up companies, report Jenna Johnson for the Post. Ulman said he will announce today that he has formed a consulting firm, Margrave Strategies. The firm’s first principal client will be the University of Maryland College Park Foundation, the university’s separate fundraising arm.
CARET WELCOMED BACK: Robert Caret’s official presentation Friday as the University System of Maryland’s incoming chancellor was as much introduction as homecoming, writes Anna Isaacs for the Daily Record. Caret will be succeeding USM Chancellor William Kirwan next July following a three-year stint as president of the University of Massachusetts.