State Roundup, July 12, 2017

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MD OFFICIALS DOUBT TRUMP FBI HQ EXCUSES: In a joint statement, the FBI and the General Services Administration said they did not get the full $1.4 billion sought under the federal government’s 2017 budget. The budget fix for 2017 set aside $523 million, leaving a funding gap of about $882 million, Daniel Sernovitz of the Washington Business Journal reports.

  • The Trump administration said Tuesday it is halting plans to move the FBI headquarters outside the District of Columbia because it lacks sufficient funding and fears cost overruns, writes Scott Dance in the Sun. Officials in Maryland, who have lobbied the federal government to move the agency to Prince George’s County, cast doubt on the explanation, and pledged to continue pursuing the project.

NOTHING BUT LOSERS: In an analysis for the Post, Robert McCartney and Jenna Portnoy write that the new FBI headquarters was supposed to produce two big winners in the Washington region: either Prince George’s or Fairfax counties, where the new complex would go, and the District, which would get a new trophy building to replace the old FBI facility in a premier location on Pennsylvania Avenue. Instead, the Trump administration’s decision to cancel the project has yielded nothing but losers.

KOPP TO WITHHOLD PAY FROM TWO: Paychecks for two members of Gov. Larry Hogan’s Cabinet will be lighter than usual next week — checks that could be their last for a while, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. The paychecks for Planning Secretary Wendi Peters and Health Secretary Dennis R. Schrader will reflect the loss of two days pay as the result of budget language passed earlier this year that bars both from receiving a check. The language was passed after Gov. Larry Hogan withdrew their respective appointments and touched off a potential conflict between the executive and legislative branch that could wind up in court.

GERRYMANDERING CASE: Attorneys are at odds over whether a federal challenge to Maryland’s congressional districts should be delayed while the U.S. Supreme Court considers a Wisconsin case that also alleges partisan gerrymandering, Danielle Gaines writes in the Frederick News Post. In a brief filed Tuesday evening, the attorney for the plaintiffs in the Maryland case said it should move forward as planned because the issues here and in Wisconsin are different. He also wrote that the Supreme Court should have an opportunity to consider the two challenges side by side.

KHIZR KHAN TO SPEAK IN TOWSON: Khizr Khan, the father of a fallen Army soldier and an immigrant who made national headlines last year when he criticized Donald Trump at the Democratic National Convention, is set to speak today at a rally in Towson, Alison Knezevich of the Sun writes. Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said he plans to honor Khan, an immigrant from Pakistan, with a citation recognizing him for speaking out for the rights of immigrant communities.

HATE INCIDENTS RISE IN MoCo: Since October, more than three dozen bias incidents have been reported by or linked to schools in Montgomery County, mostly involving vandalism with swastikas, racial epithets or other bigoted messages, Donna St. George writes about a Washington Post analysis of information provided by police and school officials.

BAD DRUG LEGISLATION: Chip Davis of the Association for Accessible Medicines in an op-ed for the Sun, writes that in May, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh declared victory when the General Assembly passed House Bill 631, giving him the power to sue certain drug companies for “excessive” price increases. In doing so, unfortunately, Marylanders were misled about these new powers. In reality, this legislation will decrease competition and raise prices, neither of which will benefit patients, employers or taxpayers in the state.

HOGAN ON CITY VIOLENCE: Gov. Larry Hogan said he and Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh discussed “probably more than a hundred items” this week in their first conversation about addressing city violence. In the first half of this year, Baltimore endured its highest homicide rate in 25 years. The crisis has frustrated residents and elected officials who question whether enough is being done. Pugh sought Hogan’s assistance. Speaking publicly for the first time since meeting with the mayor Monday, Hogan said on Tuesday that he and Pugh were “pretty much on the same page” about what needed to be done, Erin Cox of the Sun reports.

BUSCH RECUPERATING: Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch, who underwent a liver transplant last month, is recuperating at home and doctors are pleased with his progress, according to an aide. Busch (D-Anne Arundel), 70, was diagnosed with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, a liver disease, and doctors recommended a transplant after growing concerned that his condition was worsening. Ovetta Wiggins of the Post writes that his sister donated a portion of her liver through the living-donor program at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

HOGAN CAMPAIGNING: Gov. Larry Hogan was surely joshing on Monday when he told reporters that “maybe in a year or so we’ll think about re-election.” Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter writes that Hogan hasn’t officially launched his re-election bid, but next year’s campaign has clearly been on his mind for a long, long time. He’s explicitly talked about his second term and been aggressively raising money to achieve it.

DEMS ATTACK HOGAN RECORD: Josh Hicks of the Post reports that the Maryland Democratic Party attacked Gov. Larry Hogan’s economic record on Tuesday, trying to undermine the Republican’s case for reelection by showing that recent job and wage growth in the state have lagged compared with nearby states and the nation.

WAITING FOR DELANEY: Rep. John Delaney (D), a.k.a. “Hamlet on the Potomac,” says he will announce later this month whether he plans to run for governor in 2018. Or whether he’ll seek a fourth term in Congress. Or maybe whether he’ll run for president. Or whether he won’t run for anything at all. Of course, he initially said he was going to announce last month whether he’ll run for governor.Why the holdup? And could there possibly be an advantage to waiting? Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters ponders the possibilities.

SANDERS TO ENDORSE JEALOUS: Former NAACP President Ben Jealous will receive a boost in his efforts to win progressive support in his bid for the Democratic nomination for governor Thursday when he receives an endorsement from Bernie Sanders. The Vermont senator is scheduled to appear with Jealous in Silver Spring at an event organized by the left-leaning group Our Revolution Maryland, Michael Dresser of the Sun reports.

CITY PARKING ON THE SPOT: Nick Zaiac of the Maryland Public Policy Institute writes that Baltimore City will soon roll out flexible rates for parking downtown to ensure spots are readily available. This is a needed first step toward fixing one of the city’s most vexing problems.

MoCo CAMPAIGN FINANCING LAW: A bill recommending three amendments to Montgomery County’s public campaign finance law was introduced by the County Council Tuesday, the same day state election staff urged Montgomery County candidates to wait until Aug. 1 or later, to submit their applications for public campaign financing, Glynis Kazanjian reports for MarylandReporter.

OPPOSED TO 2nd POTOMAC BRIDGE: Doug Tallman of mymcmedia writes that Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner is asking his fellow council members to sign on to a resolution that spells out the county’s opposition to a bridge across the Potomac River that would connect the Intercounty Connector to Virginia routes to Dulles Airport. The Transportation Planning Board, part of the multijurisdictional Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, will consider today a proposal to study a “second crossing” of the Potomac River.

WHY NO PG COVERAGE: A Prince George’s County politico asked this week why Maryland Reporter weren’t doing original stories on Prince George’s politics since we’ve launched regular coverage of Montgomery County. Admittedly PG is an even worse news desert than MoCo but the issue is resources. If someone would give us a $5,000 grant, we’d happily do a story a week about Prince George’s politics. Readers are getting our content for free, but news coverage costs money. Simple as that.