BUSCH UNDERGOES LIVER TRANSPLANT: House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) underwent a liver transplant Thursday for a condition he has attributed to skin-cancer medication. Busch, 70, was diagnosed with liver disease from nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, and he learned last month that the problem was worsening, according to a statement from his office, Josh Hicks of the Post reports.
- In a brief interview on Wednesday, the Annapolis Democrat said his health had taken a turn for the worse in recent weeks, Rick Hutzell and Amanda Yeager of the Annapolis Capital report.
- Questions about Busch’s health date back to last October, when he missed a Democratic Caucus meeting for the first time in recent memory, writes Bryan Sears in the Daily Record. At the time, his staff said Busch suffered an adverse reaction to a flu shot. In December, after he appeared visibly thinner and frail during the swearing-in of Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, Busch and his staff said the same illness that dated back to October required hospitalization and was a reaction to an unspecified medication to treat an unspecified illness.
O’MALLEY ADMITS GERRYMANDER: Maryland Democrats drew the state’s convoluted congressional districts with an eye toward ousting a longtime Republican incumbent and replacing him with a Democrat, former Gov. Martin O’Malley has acknowledged as part of a high-profile legal challenge to the maps winding its way through federal court. John Fritze of the Sun reports that the acknowledgment that state Democrats were working in 2011 to add a seventh member of their party to the House of Representatives, widely understood at the time but seldom conceded publicly even now, comes as Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is advocating for a nonpartisan redistricting commission, ostensibly to curb partisan gerrymandering.
- In the Washington Post online, the AP’s Brian Witte provides more details of the depositions. He reports that O’Malley also said redistricting in Maryland and many other states is still a partisan process, though he has since decided he supports the use of nonpartisan redistricting commissions. In 2011, though, he set out to draw a map favorable to the Democratic Party.
- As the depositions of O’Malley, Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch come to light, the editorial board of the Sun urges the Democrats to allow Gov. Hogan to take the process of drawing the lines out of partisan hands.
FEDS INDICT SEN. OAKS: State Sen. Nathaniel Oaks has been indicted on nine federal fraud and bribery counts in an action that supersedes the criminal charges brought against him in April, Michael Dresser of the Sun reports. Oaks, 70, is expected to appear in U.S. District Court in Baltimore to answer the charges within the next week or two, said a spokesman for the Maryland U.S. attorney’s office. No date has been scheduled, he said.
- Oaks took more than $15,000 from a business person looking to secure contracts in the city starting in 2015, law enforcement officials said. In exchange, Oaks wrote letters on the business’s behalf with his official letterhead and drafted a bill to help the company obtain U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds and $250,000 in state funds for a project, court filings state, Lyn Bui of the Post reports.
- In April, Oaks was charged in a criminal complaint with honest services wire fraud and accepting illegal cash payments. The charges are related to a series of cash payments allegedly made in 2016 to Oaks while he was still in the House of Delegates, Bryan Sears writes in the Daily Record.
RX POT HEARING TODAY: A Baltimore judge is scheduled to hold a hearing on a temporary court order that prevents more medical marijuana licenses to be awarded. Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams is holding the hearing today, the AP is reporting.
MARYLANDERS CRITICIZE TRUMP ON PARIS ACCORD: Many of Maryland’s elected officials rebuked President Donald J. Trump’s decision Thursday to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord. Virtually every member of the state’s congressional delegation weighed in with reaction minutes after Trump walked out of the Rose Garden. The decision also prompted some rare, if tepid criticism from Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, who has generally been hesitant to discuss Trump’s policies, the Sun’s John Fritze reports.
SEAFOOD MARKET TO GET MAJOR FACELIFT: Bay Journal’s Rona Kobell writes in MarylandReporter that for the first time in more than 30 years, the Maryland Wholesale Seafood Market in Jessup, run by a state-created authority, is in line for a major facelift. It’s an expensive one, too. The planned $40 million project will add 104,000 square feet of space to the Jessup facility and change its purpose from a busy-at-dawn seafood warehouse to a food emporium for its growing base of retail customers.
RASKIN TO DELAY ENDORSEMENTS: U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-8th, is among a group of Democratic lawmakers who say they will not endorse any candidates in the 2018 governor’s race until the February 2018 filing deadline and after at least one debate has been held, Danielle Gaines writes in her Political Notes column for the Frederick News Post. Sixteen elected Democrats in local, state and federal posts signed on to the “grassroots democracy commitment.”
TRONE SETS UP LEGAL AID FUND: Potomac wine executive and likely 2018 candidate David Trone announced a $100,000 grant Thursday through his private foundation for legal assistance to Montgomery County families who may be affected by President Trump’s proposed ban on travel to the U.S. from six Muslim-majority countries, Bill Turque of the Post reports.
- Andrew Metcalf of Bethesda Beat reports that Trump has argued the travel ban is necessary to protect national security and the case is expected to be reviewed by the Supreme Court. Trone, who is also mulling a possible run for county executive or the U.S. House of Representatives, said the grant will fund legal assistance if and when the executive order goes into effect.
BERLINER TO RUN FOR MO CO EXEC: Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner announced Thursday that he will formally enter the 2018 Democratic primary for county executive next week, Bill Turque of the Post writes.
- The three-term council member who represents Bethesda-based District 1 is scheduled to announce that he will run for the county’s top leadership post Wednesday evening at Owen’s Ordinary at Pike & Rose in North Bethesda, Andrew Metcalf writes in Bethesda Beat.
TAX SALES HALT SOUGHT: A coalition of community advocates, church leaders and watchdog groups called on Baltimore City officials Thursday to immediately halt tax sales for water debt, citing erroneous bills and high costs. Del. Mary Washington, a Baltimore Democrat, said Mayor Catherine Pugh and the City Council should establish a moratorium and scrutinize all sales over the last three years to make sure no homes or churches were sold over questionable bills, reports Yvonne Wenger in the Sun.
AXE MAYOR’s BUDGET OFFICE: Ian Duncan reports in the Sun that members of the Baltimore City Council, unhappy with the state of negotiations over some extra money for children in the city’s budget, hit upon a ripe scheme Thursday: Vote to take away all funding for the mayor’s budgeting office.
YUNGMAN TO RUN FOR HO CO COUNCIL: Woodbine resident David Yungmann, an advocate of the downtown Columbia redevelopment plan, has announced his candidacy for the District 5 Howard County Council seat currently held by Republican Councilman Greg Fox. Andrew Michaels of the Howard County Times writes the story.