BID PROCESS STARTS FOR NEW FBI HQ: The federal agency overseeing the possible construction of new headquarters for the FBI said Wednesday it has notified the firms selected to bid on the project, and that it remains committed to a consolidated facility despite recent delays. Maryland and Virginia are competing for the 2.1-million square foot project, which would house roughly 11,000 jobs, making it one of the largest federal facilities in either state. John Fritze writes in the Sun that the Obama administration is considering three sites — two in Prince George’s County and one in Fairfax County, Va.
REDISTRICTING PANEL HEARINGS END: Gov. Larry Hogan’s Redistricting Reform Commission wrapped up its fifth and final regional hearing Tuesday night in Laurel, reports Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com. Republican legislators and citizens outnumbered Democrats and African American Democrats complained of under-representation. But in a break from previous hearings, a smattering of Democrats opposed changes that unilaterally weaken their party while larger Republican-controlled states continued their gerrymandering ways, disempowering Democrats.
- In comments given to the Maryland Redistricting Reform Commission, UMBC Professor Roy T. Myers said, I hope that the redistricting commission’s work is the start of a serious examination of how to reform a process that is clearly flawed, as is most obviously shown by the shape of the congressional district in which I reside, the 3rd Congressional District. I say this even though I lean Democratic and am glad that the partisan gerrymandering of Maryland partially offsets the extensive partisan gerrymandering conducted by Republicans in many other states.
HOGAN POPULARITY UP: Gov. Larry Hogan is deeply popular nine months after taking office, earning high marks from residents who describe him as a “different kind of Republican” and who have watched him battle cancer, a new Washington Post-University of Maryland poll has found, Ovetta Wiggins and Peyton Craighill report. Hogan’s 61% approval rating — up from 42% in February — extends across partisan and demographic lines in a state where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans more than 2 to 1.
BED BUGS BITE: About 150 state employees are getting an unscheduled week off from collecting taxes because of an infestation of bedbugs in the state office complex in Baltimore, Michael Dresser reports in the Sun. The comptroller’s office workers were sent home after officials discovered evidence Tuesday that two previous sprayings of bedbugs had failed to eradicate the biting insects. Exterminators were expected to return to 301 W. Preston St. on Wednesday night for a new round of treatments, according to the state Department of General Services.
- Ovetta Wiggins of the Post quotes Andrew Friedson, a spokesman for Comptroller Peter Franchot: “We acted as quickly as possible. We’re trying as best we can to provide a comfortable work environment for our employees.”
- Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports that Friedson said that means closing the floor and placing 150 workers in the collections and compliance divisions on paid administrative leave while the state Department of General Services, which is responsible for the building, brings in an exterminator. “We’re the tenants, and they’re the landlord,” Friedson said.
YUMI HOGAN MEETS KOREAN PREZ: First lady Yumi Hogan was scheduled to meet Wednesday with South Korean President Park Geun-hye in Greenbelt while the leader of Hogan’s native nation is on a three-day trip to Washington. Park is the first woman elected to lead South Korea. Hogan is believed to be the first Korean-American first lady in the United States, writes Erin Cox for the Sun.
HOGAN ENDS CHEMO: Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday completed a series of chemotherapy treatments for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, undergoing six rounds since he was diagnosed in June, Erin Cox of the Sun reports. In about a month, Hogan will undergo scans to determine the treatment’s effectiveness. The new Republican governor’s executive staff welcomed him back to Annapolis with a governor’s mansion adorned with lime green ribbons, the color used to promote lymphoma awareness. The story is topped by a short video of his return to Government House.
SPORTS MUSEUM OWES STATE $300,000: The Sports Legends Museum, which closed abruptly on Monday at Camden Station, owes the State of Maryland more than $300,000 in back rent and other charges, according to the Maryland Stadium Authority, Ed Gunts report in Baltimore Brew. As of this week, the total figure is $306,745, according to stadium authority Chief Financial Officer David Raith. That includes past due rent, late charges, unpaid utility fees, parking fees and charges related to a sublease to a gift shop, Raith said.
TWEETING ON O’MALLEY: As pundits continue to digest the first Democratic presidential candidates debate, Ian Duncan of the Sun reports that Baltimore’s top prosecutor Marilyn J. Mosby appeared to come to the aid of former mayor Martin O’Malley during Tuesday’s debate when he was pressed on the high-arrest policing style he backed in Baltimore. CNN host Anderson Cooper had used Mosby’s words to question O’Malley about the roots of Baltimore’s unrest this spring.
- Instead of watching “Scream Queens,” Donald Trump couldn’t resist live tweeting the Democratic debate. Shocker: He wasn’t amused. And he used it as a chance to again criticize Martin O’Malley and his tenure as Baltimore’s mayor, Jordan Bartel writes for the Sun.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORTS: Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk (D-Prince George’s) became the first candidate in a crowded Democratic congressional field to announce on Thursday that she had raised $139,000 in mostly small-dollar donations during a slow third quarter fundraising period, Arelis Hernandez reports for the Post.
- As candidates filed their campaign donation reports, John Fritze of the Sun begins to compile them. You can see them here.
GREEN PARTY RISING? John Fritze of the Sun writes that, after not fielding a candidate for statewide office in Maryland for two election cycles, the state’s Green Party appears to be lining up behind a Baltimore pediatrician-turned-advocate for the state’s open Senate seat. Dr. Margaret Flowers, who left medicine in 2007 to advocate for a single-payer health care system, is so far unopposed for her party’s nomination
SCHUH PULLS POT BAN: The proposed ban on medical marijuana operations in Anne Arundel County is off the table, Rema Rahman reports for the Annapolis Capital. County Executive Steve Schuh is backing off his bill to prohibit the growing, processing and distributing of medicinal cannabis locally. He’s now offering amendments supported by four members of the County Council.
AA SHERIFF SWITCHES TO GOP: For the first time in more than two decades, the Anne Arundel County sheriff’s office will be led by a member of the GOP — right after he switches parties, Rema Rahman reports for the Annapolis Capital. Ron Bateman, who was re-elected to a third term in November, was to announce yesterday his plans to change his political affiliation from Democrat to Republican. That sounded a sour note with Maryland’s blue party — which leads the General Assembly — but invigorated those on the right who said they actively seek to secure control at the local level.
TANEY’S BUST: Heightened debate surrounding a local statue of Roger Brooke Taney will climax tonight night as elected officials are set to vote on Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak’s proposal to relocate the bronze bust from its current location outside Frederick City Hall, Nancy Lavin reports for the Frederick News Post.
- The Daily Record runs an AP story topped by a still from video surveillance of the vandals who attacked the bust with a red liquid substance recently.