Frustrated U.S. Senators Press Feds On FBI Headquarters Plan

A month after federal decision-makers scrapped the government’s decade-long plan to close the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s deteriorating headquarters in downtown Washington and replace it with a new building in the Maryland or Virginia suburbs, U.S. Senators from both parties yesterday expressed frustration at officials from the General Services Administration. Senators lamented that millions of dollars had been wasted on the failed effort, and complained that they were blindsided by the decision.

The General Services Administration, the government’s landlord, has been working with the FBI for more than a decade on a plan to trade away the J. Edgar Hoover building in Washington, D.C. to a developer. In return, the developer would be responsible for the majority of the costs to develop a new headquarters on a modern site.

After spending more than $20 million on its plan, which would have relocated the FBI to Landover, Md., Greenbelt, Md., or Springfield, Va., the General Services Administration said it was canceling the project because Congress had not appropriated enough funds.

According to The Washington Post,

No senator appeared more frustrated by the process than Democrat Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland, the state that would be home to two of the proposed sites. Cardin said the GSA had received seven viable development plans from three developers and pointed out that Congress had granted the agency approval to pick a new headquarters location. Congress has already appropriated more than $800 million toward construction and approved the selling of the Hoover Building.

“We’ve got to figure out a way to move this quicker than saying it’s another four, five or six years to get this done,” Cardin said, “because the FBI can’t wait and the taxpayers demand that we be more efficient than this.”

Officials from Maryland and Virginia have competed for years to land the new headquarters. But the rest of Congress had repeatedly expressed concern with the huge price tag.

The project would have had a significant economic impact on Maryland and, more specifically, Prince George’s County, where two potential sites were being considered. The FBI has about 11,000 employees, which would have made it one of Maryland’s largest employers.

State and Prince George’s County officials had spent years trying to convince the FBI to relocate. The University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore planned to launch a joint national security academy. Gov. Larry Hogan pledged $317 million in infrastructure and traffic improvements to accommodate a new headquarters in Greenbelt and $255 million for a Landover site.

Read the full article for more information.

‘Amazon Jobs Day’ Aims to Hire 1,200 New Local Workers

The online retail giant, Amazon is planning to hire 1,200 workers in our region next month. The Seattle-based internet giant will hold a job fair in a dozen U.S. cities — including Baltimore — on Aug. 2 to hire a total of 50,000 new workers.

The Seattle-based company plans to hire a total of 50,000 new workers nationwide.

According to The Baltimore Business Journal,

Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) has a 1-million-square-foot distribution center in the city alongside a smaller center and is preparing to open a third center, 1.15 million-square-foot facility, in Cecil County by the end of the year with 700 new jobs promised.

The upcoming “Amazon Jobs Day” are set to take place in 12 cities where Amazon has established distribution facilities. Those cities include Fall River, Massachusetts, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Hebron, Kentucky, Etna, Ohio and Kenosha, Wisconsin.

In Baltimore, the job fair will be held at the large distribution center located at 2010 Broening Highway, a southeast corner of the city near Dundalk. The jobs available, according to an Amazon employment website, are part-time seasonal sortation associate, part-time seasonal shipping and receiving associate and full-time fulfillment associate.

The 2017 Summer Conference – “You’re Hired!” – will focus on Maryland’s new jobs growth and the wealth of opportunities in industries such as technology, the military, clean energy, the environment, agriculture, and education. Counties play a vital role in creating, maintaining, and growing the jobs in our state. Conference sessions will discuss trending data, best practices, and partnership opportunities to help counties attract and benefit from new jobs and keep our economy on an upward climb.The MACo summer conference is August 16-19, 2017 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City Maryland.

The 2017 MACo summer conference is August 16-19 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City Maryland.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Wicomico Council to Review Animal Ordinances

The Wicomico County Council has agreed to review changes to the county’s animal ordinance proposed by the director of the local Humane Society and member of the county’s Animal Ordinance Committee. The recommendations are being proposed in an effort to improve animal rights and welfare.

As reported on Delmarva Now:

Aaron Balsamo, director of the Humane Society of Wicomico County, and members of the Animal Ordinance Committee presented the proposed revisions at Tuesday morning’s council meeting, saying the changes are needed.

“Some of our laws are very antiquated,” Balsamo said.

In March, Balsamo said in an email to county staff that areas he wants to see addressed by the committee are shelters, proper tethering of dogs and a prohibition of dogs left outside in extreme weather conditions.

The proposed changes follow the discovery last year of 310 dogs living in deplorable conditions at an Eden property.

The county’s Animal Ordinance Committee was first formed in 2007 after a Willards teenager was attacked by two dogs while riding his bike on New Hope Road. Jarritt Sybert, 14, received 40 puncture marks on his body from a pit bull mix and a German shepherd mix, according to a news report at the time.

From 2007 to 2008, the committee’s focus was on how to protect the public from dangerous dogs, but now it has shifted to how to protect animals.

For more information visit Delmarva Now.

Congressional Amendment May Imperil Maryland Offshore Wind Project

A proposal that was approved by a U.S. House committee calls for Maryland’s two offshore wind projects to inch farther away from the coast, a move one of the developers said would jeopardize the entire effort.

The Appropriations Committee on Tuesday approved a measure, sponsored by Rep. Andy Harris, the Republican whose district includes the Eastern Shore, that requires the towering turbines to be located at least 24 miles from shore.

According to Delmarvanow,

The legislation comes after Ocean City officials protested that views of the turbines from its beaches and coastal condominiums would spoil the resort’s tourism industry.

“This will make it so when you go to Ocean City, Maryland, you don’t have red blinking lights on the horizon,” Harris told the committee. He cited a North Carolina State University survey in which 54 percent of respondents said they would be unwilling to stay wherever turbines are visible.

The Harris amendment bars federal funding from being spent on government reviews of wind projects built within 24 miles of Maryland’s shoreline. Any construction that takes place farther out to sea would be unaffected.

Harris said the measure would delay, not kill, the projects. The congressman pointed to a project off Virginia Beach that is going up 27 miles off the coast.

But one of the developers in Maryland promptly disagreed with that assessment.

Since its lease area is shaped like a triangle, U.S. Wind Inc. would be left with only enough room for one turbine, said Paul Rich, the company’s director for project development, in an interview.

“This is not helpful,” Rich said. “This stops a process before it’s even begun. It’s totally at odds with his constituency.”

U.S. Wind, Inc. has received enough renewable energy credits to build 62 turbines, which would rise 17 miles offshore. The company, a subsidiary of the Italian constructing firm Toto Holdings SpA, had moved the site back from 12 miles in response to Ocean City’s concerns.

Meanwhile, Skipjack Offshore Energy LLC is looking to construct 15 turbines in an area 17-21 miles off the coast at a cost of $720 million.

A representative of the Rhode Island-based Deepwater Wind Holdings LLC firm couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.

The amendment drew a rebuke from unlikely allies: manufacturing businesses and environmentalists.

Together, the projects are expected to generate more than $1.8 billion of in-state spending as well as 9,700 new direct and indirect jobs, the Maryland Public Service Commission estimates. The amendment imperils that potential economic boost, said Mike Dunn, president and CEO of the Greater Salisbury Committee.

“We think there are enormous economic development and job opportunities for the Lower Shore via the offshore wind,” Dunn said.

For her part, Anne Havemann, general counsel for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said she was “very frustrated” by the amendment. The legislation “tries to circumvent” six years of public hearings and government reviews that have gone into the effort, she said.

Individually, the projects are larger than the only offshore U.S. wind farm currently in operation: a five-turbine facility off Rhode Island, also developed by Deepwater.

U.S. Wind plans to construct future phases at the Maryland offshore site, raising the number of turbines to up to 187. That would produce enough power for more than 500,000 homes, the company said.

Read the full article for more information.

Round Up the (Un) Usual Suspects – There’s a Broader Pool of People for Your Tech Hiring Needs at #MACoCon

MACo’s Summer Conference will be August 16-19, 2017. The theme is “You’re Hired!” and sessions will focus on economic development and ways counties can contribute to job growth in Maryland. Part of that discussion will focus on TechHire, the federal initiative that aims to to equip Marylanders with the skills they need to land jobs in the tech industry. In a session exploring this issue, participants will learn more about the TechHire initiative, including how local governments in Maryland can benefit from the program.

Round Up the (Un) Usual Suspects – There’s a Broader Pool of People for Your Tech Hiring

TechHire, an initiative powered by Opportunity@Work in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education, is a nationwide, community-based movement that helps underrepresented and overlooked job seekers start technology careers. TechHire works with community partners and education providers that teach in-demand skills to people who want to take part in the modern economy—from overlooked youth, to veterans, to the long-term unemployed. Then, TechHire helps them find jobs by connecting them to a network of employers looking for tech talent. In this session, attendees will learn how to implement TechHire in their communities.

Speakers:

  • Keyon Smith, Community Engagement Manager, Opportunity@Work
  • Kati Townsley, Executive Director, Carroll Technology Council
  • Tracey Turner, Executive Director, Howard Tech Council
  • Denise L. Beaver, Deputy Director, Carroll County Economic Development

Date/Time: Thursday, August 17, 2017; 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm

MACo’s Summer Conference is August 16-19, 2017 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City Maryland. Read more about this session and others in our registration brochure.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Supreme Court To Examine Federal Sports Betting Prohibition

Maryland might potentially get to authorize – and tax – wagering on sporting events in the near future. Last week the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will hear a New Jersey case challenging the constitutionality of a federal statute preempting most states from authorizing sports betting.

Last session Maryland joined at least six other states in considering legislation on sports betting, according to Route FiftyDelegate Jason Buckel sponsored House Bill 989, Gaming – Wagering on Sporting Events – Study and Implementation, which would have created the Task Force to Study the Implementation of Sports Gaming, and under certain terms, allowed the State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (SLGCC) to issue sports gaming licenses.

Other states considering similar legislation this year include Connecticut, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and West Virginia. The State of New Jersey actually passed laws in 2012 and 2014 meant to allow sports betting at state casinos and racetracks.

The problem is that sports betting is prohibited in most states under the federal Professional Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), passed in 1992. From the House Bill 989 Fiscal Note:

The federal PASPA prohibits a government entity from sponsoring, operating, advertising, promoting, licensing, or authorizing a lottery, sweepstakes, or other betting, gambling, or wagering scheme based on one or more competitive games in which amateur or professional athletes participate. Likewise, a person may not sponsor, operate, advertise, or promote a lottery, sweepstakes, or other betting, gambling, or wagering scheme based on one or more competitive games in which amateur or professional athletes participate. States that had sports gambling before PASPA or authorized sports gambling within a year after PASPA became effective may continue to have sports gambling. Thus, Delaware, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon may offer gambling on sporting events, but only Delaware and Nevada currently authorize sports gambling.

Nevada generated $219.2 million, or 1.95% of gaming revenues, from sports betting in 2016. Delaware generated $37.9 million, or 6.3% of gaming revenues, from sports lotteries in fiscal 2015.

Major sports leagues NCAA, NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB have twice sued the State of New Jersey for authorizing sports betting notwithstanding PASPA, and thus far have won every step of the way. According to coverage by ESPN, it was considered unlikely that the Supreme Court would take up the case, given a recommendation otherwise by Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall.

From ESPN’s coverage:

[The Supreme Court] could hear the case as early as this fall, but experts believe a more likely timetable is sometime this winter, with a decision in late spring or early summer. …

The sports betting landscape in the U.S. has shifted significantly over the past five years as the New Jersey case has played out. The NBA has pivoted its position on sports betting, and the NFL and NHL have elected to place franchises in Las Vegas. MLB has begun to align itself with the NBA on the issue, along with other professional sports leagues such as MLS and the PGA.

The NCAA and NFL remain opposed to expanding legal sports betting, and the NHL has mostly remained quiet on the prospect in recent years.

State and local governments hoping for an opportunity to “get in on the game” of sports betting have allies in gaming companies and states rights advocates. From  Route Fifty:

Gaming companies mostly oppose the law and this month they joined with states rights advocates to form the American Sports Betting Coalition to push the high court to take up New Jersey’s appeal.

The American Gaming Association estimates that Americans wagered $4.1 billion on this year’s Super Bowl, that they will bet $90 billion on professional and college football this season, and that 98 percent of all of those bets will be made on the black market.

The association says current law translates to vast sums in lost tax revenue. The group filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court last year laying out its arguments. ….

“When presented with a safe, legal market or an illicit alternative, consumers will almost always choose the former,” the authors of the brief wrote.

Medical Cannabis is Coming to St. Mary’s

Medical cannabis is coming to Southern Maryland. The first medical cannabis dispensary in St. Mary’s County is expected to open in early September in Mechanicsville.

The Bay Net reports,

Representatives from Southern Maryland Relief LLC in Mechanicsville met with roughly two dozen citizens in the St. Mary’s County Library in Leonardtown Friday, June 30 to explain the particulars about the budding industry.

Candice Junkin, “a professional woman” with children and grandchildren, has been advocating for the use of medicinal marijuana for about 15 years.

“Cannabis is allowing me to live with my pain and to live my life,” she said.

Junkin said she has heard for years that cannabis is “a gateway drug” but said recent studies have shown that is not the case.

“The black market is the gateway,” she stressed.

Touting that the state of Maryland is likely to have the “most regulated industry in the country,” Junkin emphasized that their dispensary will not be a place for people wanting to get high to get their weed.

“There will be very strict guidelines and regulations,” she said. “Nobody can get into our facility without showing their ID. We want to provide our product in comfort, safety and security,” Junkin added.

She directed those seeking help with pain management or chronic disease to go to the state Medical marijuana website at mmcc.maryland.gov/ to register or for information. They are then directed to the Health Center in White Plains where they can obtain a card for $175 (MedStar in St. Mary’s has refused to jump on the medical cannabis bandwagon and therefore patients are being directed to Charles County).

“You can’t just come in and ask for a card,” Junkin explained. “You have to have an ailment. You have to be a patient or caretaker to get in the door.”

In addition to tinctures and bud, they will also offer topicals and other products.

Charlie Mattingly noted that Maryland does not have a residency clause, but those outside of the state are required to be treated at a Maryland facility to receive the products.

Maryland approved 15 growers and 15 processors in the state last year.

Maryland’s medical cannabis program will be discussed at the 2017 MACo Summer Conference session “The Green Rush? Cannabusiness in Maryland Counties.” The session will be held from 2:00-3:00 pm, Thursday, August 17, 2017 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City Maryland.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Will You Throw the First Pitch?

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Step up and share your county’s IT needs at MACo’s Summer Conference.

This year’s MACo Conference offers attendees an opportunity to voice county government information technology interests directly to private sector providers in an informal, informational format.

Share challenges & discover capabilities in this new Tech Wednesday offering.

SWITCH PITCH” IGNITE! — Meet Your Match: Solutions to County IT Challenges

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

11:30 am – 12:30 pm

Gain quick insight into what tech can do for county governments in this fast-paced session. County IT and management professionals will state their needs, and vendors in the Tech Expo Tradeshow will respond with their pitch for solving the top tech issues. Attendees will get a chance to learn a little about a lot of vendors in a short period of time. Listen and learn!

Example County Pitches

  1. How do I empower employees to work from home in a secure and productive manner at minimal cost to the County?
  2. There are so many mobile apps in the market. Other than reading through the reviews, how can one determine the overall quality of a mobile app?  Is there a standard to check an app’s quality? What is it?
  3. What and where have been some of the more successful public/private partnerships providing broadband to unserved rural areas?

SIGN UP HERE TO BE A PART OF THIS SESSION Space is limited – Reply by July 19.

Have a pitch, but you are not attending this session?  Contact Robin Clark Eilenberg at MACo.

Tech Wednesday Vendor List

  • AVI-SPL, Inc
  • CDW-G
  • Comcast
  • Commvault
  • Cybersecurity Association of Maryland, Inc.
  • Data Networks of America
  • ePlus Technology Inc.
  • Esri
  • Freedom Broadband
  • Fujitsu America, Inc.
  • GovDeals, Inc.
  • Juniper Networks
  • Lenovo
  • Maryland Department of Natural Resources
  • Maryland Libraries
  • Maryland Relay
  • Motorola Solutions, Inc.
  • Musco Sports Lighting
  • NIC Maryland
  • Phillips Office Solutions
  • Presidio
  • Prosys Information Systems
  • Regent Development Consulting, Inc. (RDC)
  • Ricoh USA, Inc.
  • Rimkus Consulting Group, Inc.
  • Rudolph’s Office & Computer Supply, Inc.
  • SAIC
  • ShoreScan Solutions
  • Splunk
  • Sprint
  • Supply Solutions, LLC
  • Tomi Environmental Solutions

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

TopGolf Plan for South Baltimore Is Ready for Possible Tee-Off

A proposal to open TopGolf at the site of Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter site near M&T Bank Stadium in South Baltimore has been sent to city economic development officials by Towson developer Caves Valley Partners, City Councilman Ed Resiginer said this week. Reisinger represents the 10th District, which includes the area.

Baltimore Business Journal reports,

In the meantime, the city has signed a contract to acquire a 40,000-square-foot facility at 2800 Wegworth Lane near Westport and Cherry Hill for a new BARCS shelter, said Scott Douglas, a principal at Douglas Commercial LLC, which listed the building for sale. Douglas declined to reveal the sales price.

Caves Valley in early April submitted the lone bid for a 2.5-acre parcel of city-owned land at 301 Stockholm St. in response to a request for proposals issued earlier this year by the Baltimore Development Corp., Resiginer said. Another 7 acres located adjacent to the BARCS site would make the development property total 10 acres.

Arsh Mirmiran, a partner in Caves Valley, did not respond to a request for comment.

Adding TopGolf, a national chain with locations in cities that include Las Vegas and Charlotte, N.C., will boost the area’s vibe as am emerging entertainment zone. TopGolf’s feature a 240-yard high-tech driving range, a sports bar and restaurant and party rental hall. The area is currently highlighted by the home turf of the Baltimore Ravens and the Horseshoe Baltimore casino.

The Dallas-based company has been searching to move into Baltimore for about a year. TopGolf is planning its first Maryland location off Interstate 270 in Gaithersburg.

Reisinger said this week the bid to build a TopGolf location there by Caves Valley was moving through city development channels. The site was identified in a 2015 South Baltimore Gateway Master Plan by the city Department of Planning as part of a new “entertainment hub.”

Read the full article for more information.

MD Technology Development Corp. Names New CEO

The Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) has a new chief executive officer, starting June 26.

George Davis’ wealth of business experience includes serving as partner of GM3/Gamma 3 LLC, a Baltimore-based investment initiative that provides early-stage funding to advanced technology companies; CEO of Gemstone Biotherapeutics LLC, a Baltimore-based research and development company founded in conjunction with Johns Hopkins University; director of Perthera Inc, a new venture that is at the forefront of the evolving bio-informatics industry; board of directors/CEO of Avatech Solutions/Rand Worldwide Inc, a publicly traded CAD software and engineering support company; president and vice chairman of Aether Systems, a pioneering wireless data company; and contracts, operations and program manager at Westinghouse Electric Corporation.

From TEDCO’s statement:

“After a thorough search, the Board of Directors is excited to have George Davis take the helm of TEDCO as our new CEO. George brings to TEDCO a wealth of demonstrated leadership skills, diverse C-Level experience acumen and a history of successful investment and operational engagements within the Maryland Innovation Ecosystem,” said TEDCO Chairman Newt Fowler. “He’s an entrepreneur’s entrepreneur. And he will execute on Governor Hogan’s strong priority of supporting small businesses, including tech startups, as the foundation for improving Maryland’s economy.”

TEDCO has been carrying the “innovation to market” banner for almost two decades and has added tremendous value to the evolving entrepreneurial ecosystem. Recognized as one of the most active seed/early-stage investors in the nation, TEDCO has a portfolio of more than 400 seed investments. TEDCO’s $22 million awarded to startups led to more than $1 billion in follow-on funding; 4,358 jobs created at an average salary of $74,700; and more than $36 million in annual government revenues attributed to TEDCO activities.

TEDCO is an independent organization created by the Maryland General Assembly in 1998 to facilitate the transfer and commercialization of technology from Maryland’s research universities and federal labs into the marketplace and to assist in the creation and growth of technology-based businesses in all regions of the State. TEDCO indicates on its website that it “strives to be Maryland’s lead source for entrepreneurial business assistance and seed funding for the development of startup companies in Maryland’s innovation economy.”