State Roundup: Probe underway for choice of Greenbelt for FBI home; Trone prepares to face off with Alsobrooks; State Sen. Lam joins congressional race

State Roundup: Probe underway for choice of Greenbelt for FBI home; Trone prepares to face off with Alsobrooks; State Sen. Lam joins congressional race

Maryland First Lady Dawn Moore talks with members of the Garden Clubs of Maryland about the Christmas trees they installed at the State House. This tree has a dog theme. Governor's Office photo by Joe Andrucyk

GSA’S WATCHDOG TO PROBE SELECTION PROCESS FOR NEW FBI HEADQUARTERS: The watchdog for the General Services Administration will investigate the process that led the federal agency to choose a Maryland site over two others for the new FBI headquarters. Acting Inspector General Robert Erickson wrote in a letter released Thursday that the “objective will be to assess the agency’s process and procedures for the site selection to relocate the FBI Headquarters.” Eleven members of Virginia’s congressional delegation cheered the decision in a joint statement and called for the GSA to “pause all activities related to the relocation until the IG’s investigation is complete.” Jennifer Shutt/Maryland Matters

  • Maryland officials who backed the Greenbelt bid immediately expressed confidence that the inspector general’s review will find that the process was sound and the pick was fair. Lindsey Whitehead of Associated Press/The Baltimore Banner

SENATE CONTENDER TRONE PREPARES TO FACE OFF AGAINST ALSOBROOKS AT FORUM: As the first head-to-head encounter looms this weekend among the Democratic contenders for the Senate seat up for grabs in next May’s primary, audiences of Democratic activists have recently been treated to less restrained, more combative presentations by three-term U.S. Rep. David Trone of Potomac.  Trone is arguably in the position of underdog as he faces off this weekend against his leading rival, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, whose bid to become the first Black U.S. senator in Maryland has garnered the support of virtually all of the state’s Democratic establishment.  Louis Peck/MoCo 360

STATE SEN. LAM JOINS RACE TO REPLACE U.S. REP. SARBANES; The race to replace U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-3rd), who is not seeking reelection in 2024, continues to grow. State Sen. Clarence K. Lam (D-Howard) announced Thursday that he is entering the Democratic primary — becoming the fifth state lawmaker to seek the seat. In an interview, the physician said it took him a while to join the race because he had to weigh the professional implications of a congressional bid along with the usual political considerations. Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters

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HIGH-STAKES LEGISLATIVE DEBATE LOOMS OVER RETAIL ENERGY DEREGULATION: A quarter century after Maryland allowed consumers to buy their electricity directly from suppliers, two powerful lawmakers – unhappy with the results – are planning to introduce legislation to add new guardrails on the system and strengthen consumer protections. Del. Brian M. Crosby (D-St. Mary’s), vice chair of the House Economic Matters Committee, and Senate President Pro Tem Malcolm Augustine (D-Prince George’s) both said the system as it’s devised enables unscrupulous companies to overcharge unsuspecting ratepayers who think they are getting bargains. Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters

TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES DELAY VOTES ON HARBORPLACE PROJECT: Baltimore’s planning commission delayed a vote on the redesign of Harborplace after technical difficulties prevented residents from watching a Thursday meeting online. The panel was due to vote on three bills that aim to change zoning and street design around the Inner Harbor, all of which were sponsored by City Councilman Eric Costello. He asked commission chairman Sean Davis to end the meeting without voting, citing the “high-profile nature of the proposals.” Emily Sullivan & Hallie Miller/The Baltimore Banner

MOCO SLATED TO GET FIRST ITS BLACK FIRE CHIEF: Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) Division Chief Charles Bailey was nominated this month to be the county’s next fire chief.  If confirmed, he would be the first Black person in that role. Bailey said his nomination for fire chief shows that the county is committed to making its workforce more diverse. Courtney Cohn/MoCo 360

MONTGOMERY STUDENTS TAKE THE MIC AT YOUTH TOWN HALL: At a packed youth town hall in Montgomery County Council chambers Wednesday night, local teens and tweens had plenty to discuss with their elected officials. More than 200 students participated in the event, with at least 192 tuning in online and around 50 participating in person. Student questions ranged from bullying and school safety concerns to council legislation, including a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers and proposed changes to parking ordinances. Ginny Bixby/MoCo 360

BALTIMORE INSPECTOR GENERAL SEEKS TO BAR FIRED CITY EMPLOYEES FROM BEING REHIRED: Yesterday Baltimore’s Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming reported on another oddity of city sovereignty: Employees terminated by the city are eligible for rehire by the city, even if they had committed criminal acts. Charged with rooting out waste, fraud and abuse in city government, Cumming has recommended that the Scott administration establish a uniform policy involving rehiring. Such ground rules are needed especially for employees terminated for stealing, fraud or other criminal acts, Cumming said. Mark Reutter/Baltimore Brew

LEAD PERSISTS AS PROBLEM IN GIFTS AND ENVIRONMENT: Lead poisoning has hit the news recently with pollution from leaded aviation gasoline, poisoning from applesauce pouches, and federal lead pipe replacement projects. But some lead poisoning threats come during the holiday gift-giving season from jewelry, toys, makeup, and other gifts. Cecelia Shilling of Capital New Service/Maryland Reporter

OPINION: ASBESTOS EXPOSURE STILL IMPACTS MD. VETERANS’ HEALTH: Through most of the 20th century, the U.S. armed forces applied asbestos-containing products to benefit fully from the material’s unique properties. With the Navy, Marines, Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard utilizing contaminated products, many veterans were exposed to asbestos while defending our country. Today’s growing number of toxic exposure cases among these brave men and women underlines the health risks they have taken, barring the challenges of service. As veterans embrace civilian life after service, they now face developing life-altering asbestos diseases stemming from their military years. Cristina Johnson/Maryland Reporter

DEMS PANICKING ABOUT THE WRONG THING: Polls that show Joe Biden trailing other candidates aren’t worth much at this point. What voters are saying about the economy is what Democrats need to be alarmed about, says Mileah Kromer who leads the Goucher College polling. She draws on her own polling about Republican Gov. Larry Hogan to make a case for a change in strategy. Mileah Kromer/Politico magazine

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