State Roundup, July 31, 2018

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NEW FBI HQ IN LIMBO: President Trump has become personally involved in plotting a new FBI headquarters in downtown Washington, an interest that for now has left the project in limbo and the agency stranded in a building that no longer suits its needs, according to officials and people familiar with the administration’s deliberations. A year ago, federal officials had finally decided on three finalist locations in Maryland and Virginia, and Congress appropriated $913 million toward a project expected to cost more than $3 billion, Jonathan O’Connell reports for the Post.

STORMS IMPACT BAY: In today’s MarylandReporter, Karl Blankenship and Jeremy Cox of the Bay Journal report that persistent storms that pounded the mid-Atlantic region in late July could have lingering impacts on the Chesapeake Bay, though it will take weeks, if not months, of monitoring for scientists to fully assess the potential damage.

EAT OYSTERS FOR THE BAY: Maryland Matters is reporting that Sunday is National Oyster Day — and in conjunction with that special day, quite a number of Maryland restaurants are donating a portion of their proceeds to the Oyster Recovery Partnership. For every oyster they sell on Sunday, these establishments will donate 10 cents to the partnership. They’re calling the campaign “Give Back to the Bay on National Oyster Day.” Each oyster sale will help plant 10 spat (baby oysters) onto local oyster reefs.

HIKE IN HEALTH PREMIUMS SOUGHT: Maryland’s insurance regulator Monday heard health insurance companies’ cases for raising premiums on the individual market by an average of 30%, but those requests could fall if a reinsurance program is approved, Tim Curtis of the Daily Record reports.

SUIT AGAINST 3D PRINTED GUNS: John Rydell of WBFF-TV reports that Attorney General Brian Frosh has joined seven other states and Washington, D.C., in filing suit to prevent distribution of files for 3D printed firearms. Frosh says the action is designed to block a Trump administration action that he says would give criminals and terrorists access to downloadable and untraceable printed weapons.

HOGAN’s BIPARTISAN SPORTS SUITES: Like governors before him, Larry Hogan has used Maryland’s suites at sports stadiums to entertain family, reward state employees and honor charities — especially those focused on fighting cancer and supporting law enforcement. The Republican governor of a deep-blue state also has invited both Democratic and GOP politicians, university and corporate leaders — and executives of his private real estate business, according to documents provided by the governor’s office, Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports.

HOGAN PICKS UP FIREFIGHTERS ENSORSEMENT: Republican Gov. Larry Hogan collected the endorsement of the Professional Firefighters of Maryland Monday, denying Ben Jealous the support of a labor group that backed Democratic nominee Anthony G. Brown in 2014. Michael Dresser of the Sun reports that Hogan accepted the group’s support at a news conference outside the State House, surrounded by dozens of firefighters in yellow and black T-shirts. The professional firefighters’ group is the umbrella organization for Maryland affiliates of the International Association of Fire Fighters, an AFL-CIO union.

HOGAN, EHRLICH & DEJA VU: Gov. Larry Hogan is popular, but so was former Gov. Bob Ehrlich when he lost his bid for reelection. So goes the favorite anecdote of voters certain to have previously lived our current gubernatorial contest. But are Marylanders really experiencing a case of electoral déjà vu? To start, Ehrlich’s job approval ratings averaged in the low- to mid-50s in 2006, the year he lost his reelection bid. And much like Mr. Hogan does today, Mr. Ehrlich faced a sustained gap between those ratings and voter support for his reelection, writes Mileah Kromer in a column for the Sun.

INTERVIEWS WITH TWO GOP CONGRESSIONAL HOPEFULS: Tom Hall of WYPR-FM interviews two candidates for Congress. The first is Richmond Davis, the Republican nominee for election to the U.S. House of Representatives from Maryland’s 7th District.  He is running against the incumbent, Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Democrat, who has served in Congress since 1996.

PUBLIC CAMPAIGN FUNDING IN BALTIMORE CITY? Baltimore voters will decide this fall whether the city should allow public funding of local election campaigns and create an independent inspector general’s office, reports Talia Richman in the Sun. Mayor Catherine E. Pugh signed the two charter amendment proposals on Monday. Voters will be asked whether they support the measures at the polls in November.

APPEALS COURT JUDGE STEPPING DOWN: Saying she wanted to quit on her own terms, Maryland Court of Appeals Judge Sally D. Adkins announced Monday she will step down from the bench Oct. 31, well before the state constitution would have mandated her retirement at age 70 in January 2020, Steve Lash of the Daily Record reports. “In a year and four months, they’re going to kick me out,” said Adkins, 68, who has served on the state’s top court since June 25, 2008. “No reason to wait until I get kicked out.”

NO SHOW, NOT GUILTY PLEA IN CAPITAL GAZETTE MURDERS: Danielle Ohl and Jessica Anderson of the Annapolis Capital report that the man charged with killing five Capital Gazette staff members filed a not guilty plea Monday, ahead of a scheduled appearance that attracted a crowd of reporters and cameras to Annapolis. Jarrod W. Ramos, 38, of Laurel, entered the plea and several standard motions related to his trial. Ramos has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder in the attack.

TITLE X GAG RULE: Democratic state officials are asking to expand the public comment period for a proposed rule that could affect low-income women and their health, WMAR-TV is reporting. On Friday, multiple senators, congressmen, and members of the Maryland Congressional Delegation came together to write a letter requesting an extension for the public comment period for the proposed Title X gag rule.