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State Creates BRAC Advisory Group

The Maryland Military Installation Council (MMIC) has formed a BRAC Advisory Group that will focus on threats and opportunities associated with uncertainties in the defense budget, as well as the probability of future Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) actions.

Department of Commerce (DoC) Secretary Mike Gill, who chairs the MMIC, authorized the group and named 12 founding members, who include Col. John Astle, USMC (Ret.), Maryland state senator; and Deon Viergutz, vice president of cybersolutions, Lockheed Martin, and former president, Fort Meade Alliance.

“Military commands in our state are crucial to homeland security, chemical and biological research, cybersecurity, aerospace and aviation,” said Gov. Larry Hogan. “The installations also contribute more than $57 million to Maryland’s economy. In anticipation of future BRAC initiatives, Maryland is shoring up its defense of military installations throughout the state. The BRAC Advisory Group is the first of many steps to address the challenges and opportunities of pending DoD [Department of Defense] actions and ensure that Maryland retains its prominent role in the defense of the nation.”

“Community partnerships played key roles in supporting and protecting our military installations in the 2005 BRAC initiative and other actions that brought new responsibilities and more than 100,000 jobs to Maryland,” said Gill. “The new BRAC Advisory Group will interact with the communities surrounding our bases, working toward the common goal of ensuring that the defense organizations — and the more than 400,000 Marylanders working for and associated with the DoD — remain here in Maryland.”

Chaired by Brig. Gen. Mike Hayes, USMC (Ret.), managing director of the Office of Military and Federal Affairs in the DoC, the BRAC Advisory Group comprises elected officials, retired general officers, retired senior executive service officials and regional defense experts.

Delegation Announces New Fed Effort to Reduce Opioid Abuse in Maryland, Nation

Congressmen C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Elijah Cummings and John Sarbanes were joined by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake and City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen in announcing a new package of bills passed by the U.S. House of Representatives to address the national opioid abuse and overdose epidemic.

In all, the House recently passed 17 bipartisan bills that will expand access to overdose reversal drugs, reevaluate best practices for pain management and examine over-prescription of opioids to student athletes and veterans, among other measures.

Baltimore has the highest per capita heroin addiction rate in the country, with more than 19,000 active users, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. Misuse of and addiction to prescription opioids is also increasing at staggering rates across the country.

“In Baltimore, we have been at the forefront of fighting this epidemic for decades, and we commend our Congressional delegation on helping pass this legislation to support communities like Baltimore across the country,” said Wen. “While we have made significant strides around the disease of addiction, we cannot continue to make progress without also providing funding for quality, on-demand treatment. By continuing to work with our federal leaders to invest in treatment, we can truly address this public health emergency and save the lives of thousands of Baltimoreans.”

UMCP, UMB Open SAFE Center in College Park

The University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP), and University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), have opened the University of Maryland SAFE (Support, Advocacy, Freedom and Empowerment) Center for Human Trafficking Survivors.

Located near the College Park campus, the SAFE Center will draw on the combined resources and the wide range of disciplines of both UMCP and UMB to address human trafficking. Through in-house services and collaborative partnerships, the center will provide direct services to U.S. and foreign-born adult and child survivors of sex and labor trafficking, with a particular focus on survivors in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. The center is designed to fill an unmet need in the region.

The SAFE Center is an interdisciplinary service, research and advocacy initiative of UMCP and UMB through the formal collaborative program for innovation, University of Maryland: MPowering the State. Researchers from both universities will come together to expand the scholarship on human trafficking, and UMCP and UMB students will become the next generation of trafficking experts and survivor advocates.

“This partnership is an excellent example of how our two universities can work together to make each institution stronger and develop real-world solutions that benefit our communities,” said University of Maryland, Baltimore, President Jay Perman. “At the SAFE Center, experts from the University of Maryland School of Social Work and the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law will conduct groundbreaking research into human trafficking and will work closely with survivors to help them realize bright futures outside of this exploitative illegal industry. We are excited to see the innovative, real-world solutions that are sure to develop from this promising collaboration.”

In addition to providing survivor-centered and trauma-informed services that empower trafficking survivors to heal and reclaim their lives, the SAFE Center also will help to prevent trafficking and better serve survivors through research and policy advocacy. For more information, visit www.umdsafecenter.org.

FedData Acquires Maryland Business Units From Intelligent Decisions

FedData, a provider of threat reduction and counterintelligence services to major financial institutions, has acquired the intelligence and counterintelligence business units from Intelligent Decisions Inc.

With the acquisition, FedData becomes a provider of services to the intelligence community and commercial customers. The combined company will bring experience in technical counterintelligence, insider threat reduction, technical counterintelligence and cryptography.

Additionally, FedData will add to its government infrastructure, security and engineering practice by greatly expanding its presence in Maryland, including within the Anne Arundel County intelligence community, and will be among the largest such firms by revenue.

Jamie Benoit, president of FedData, said that “this acquisition launches our platform of companies and extends FedData’s reach into the private sector and the intelligence community. We’ve added a world-class team of professionals with unequaled knowledge of the intelligence community’s [information technology] architecture and its unique needs. Our counterintelligence professionals have spent their careers exploiting and protecting vital information against the most sophisticated adversaries and in the most important intelligence community environments. I couldn’t be more excited about FedData’s new capabilities.”

The company also announced that Daniel Batelka will lead FedData’s Defense practice, Daniel Gilliam will lead its Intelligence Practice and recent NSA retiree Lonny Anderson will head its Counterintelligence efforts.

Ruppersberger, Hudson Introduce Bill to Improve Vet Health Care

Congressmen C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D) and Richard Hudson (R), of North Carolina, introduced the bipartisan Care Veterans Deserve Act of 2016 (H.R. 5262) to expand access to health care at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) while improving choice, flexibility and quality in veterans’ health care.

“The VA backlogs in Baltimore and around the country are slowly improving, but we still have a lot of work to do on behalf of our nation’s heroes,” Ruppersberger said. “I have witnessed first-hand the frustration that many veterans feel while trying to accomplish what should be simple tasks like making doctor’s appointments and filling prescriptions. This bipartisan bill will help us make good on our promise to give veterans the very best care and quality of life possible.”

Ruppersberger and Hudson have been staunch advocates for allowing veterans with service-connected disabilities to choose care from private providers in their local communities and having the VA pay for it. The bill would seek to do that by making the pilot Veterans Choice Card program enacted by the bipartisan Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 permanent while expanding eligibility to veterans with a 50% service-connected disability rating or higher.

The bill aims to further address the continued backlog of VA appointments across the country by doing the following.

  • Allowing visits to walk-in clinics without prior authorization or copayments by veterans
  • Extending VA pharmacy hours to nights and weekends
  • Opening VA hospitals to volunteer community providers interested in working with veterans during their off-hours
  • Expanding the use of telemedicine at the VA

The VA says it has reduced the claims backlog at the Baltimore Regional Office — once among the worst in the country — by 95%. An average wait time of 459 days now stands at 111.6 days.

Schuh to Include Step Increase for School Employees in Fiscal ’17 Budget Proposal

Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh announced that his fiscal 2017 budget proposal will fully fund step, or merit/incremental, increases for all eligible Anne Arundel County Public Schools employees.

“I am committed to working with our school system to ensure we reward and retain great teachers,” said Schuh. “This proposed increase for all our outstanding teachers and eligible school system employees assures that we can continue providing the best education for every student in our county.”

The proposal includes a $15.5 million increase in compensation to fully fund the board’s requested increases in the fiscal 2017 budget. The compensation increases for all system employees would begin July 1, pending negotiations between the county board of education and its employee bargaining units.

The county is also planning a $10 million, one-time investment to help ensure the school system’s health benefits fund can continue to remain solvent. Schuh formally included the funding agreement in his fiscal 2017 budget. The proposal is subject to county council approval.

Senators Introduce NDAA Amendment to Strengthen Cybersecurity

U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.) were joined by Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Michael Bennet (D-Col.) in introducing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that directs the president to elevate CyberCommand to a Combatant Command. U.S. CyberCommand is currently a subordinate unit to Strategic Command. Congress established U.S. Special Operations Command to address a rapidly growing need, strengthen the warfighter and unify forces. The amendment will elevate the command so it can respond to one of the fastest-growing threats facing the nation and ensures that Cyber Command is a national commitment receiving sufficient support to complete the expanding cyber missions that warfighters face.

“We live in a digital world where the online battlefield can be as dangerous as the front lines. We need to make sure our military is always ready and able to fend off continuing and relentless attacks from terrorist organizations, foreign governments, criminals and others who wish to steal, corrupt or manipulate our critical digital and traditional infrastructure,” said Sen. Ben Cardin, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Elevating the U.S. CyberCommand is an essential step toward protecting our national security. It also recognizes the stellar work being done at Fort Meade protecting American citizens and our military around the globe.”

The amendment is similar in the House NDAA and requires the president, with the advice and assistance of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, through the secretary of defense, establish a unified combatant command for cyber operations forces responsible for assigned cyber missions.

City Dock Bulkhead Replacement Project Celebration

Annapolis Mayor Mike Pantelides announced during a Grand Reopening and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony that the six-month, $6.1 million City Dock Bulkhead Replacement Project was completed on April 8 — on time and under budget.

“I am so grateful for the generous grant from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources that allowed us to accomplish the necessary work while creating a beautiful backdrop that takes the marine industry’s needs into consideration and supports the requests of our boating population,” Pantelides said.

Additional mooring bitts were added to the seawall between the new mooring piles, allowing a tie-off for vessels every six feet. The completed project also features a new seating area along the seawall, a wider wooden boardwalk on the Donner lot side of Ego Alley, and the single-space parking meters are being replaced with a multi-space kiosk.

Other updates to the City Dock area include the following

  • Additional fire protection system for the entire bulkhead
  • Utilities including water and upgraded power pedestals
  • 700 linear feet of cantilevered steel sheet pile bulkhead
  • Extension of existing storm drains through new bulkhead

Pantelides applauded the working relationship between the Annapolis Department of Public Works crew and the project’s contractor, Cianbro, and engineering design firm, EBA Engineering. Both are local firms and were part of the project from start to finish.

TV Legend Asner Films Pilot in Columbia

Ed Asner, the Emmy-Award winning actor best known for his role as Lou Grant in the iconic 1970s TV sitcom “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and former president of the Screen Actors Guild, was involved in filming a pilot in Columbia in late May.

Columbia was chosen as the location for the filming for the pilot to a sitcom, “Bennie’s Gym,” because Director Michael Skinner has an office in Washington, D.C., and due to the efforts of the Maryland Film Office and representatives of the Howard County Economic Development Authority to attract the production.

The producers also opted to shoot locally because of the availability of on- and off-screen talent, as well as goods and services that are easily accessible in the area.

The warehouse soundstages on Snowden River Parkway that were used to film interior shots for HBO’s “Veep,” which shot for several years in Maryland and left last year after receiving an offer with tax incentives to shoot in California, were not used to film the pilot for the show. The producers are currently shoppi

Grace Agrees to Purchase BASF’s Polyolefin Catalysts Business

W. R. Grace & Co., of Columbia, has signed an agreement to acquire the assets of BASF’s Polyolefin Catalysts business. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of this year pending regulatory approvals, required consultations with employee representatives and other customary closing conditions. Terms were not disclosed.

BASF’s Polyolefin Catalysts business includes its LYNX high-activity polyethylene (PE) catalyst technologies that are utilized commercially in slurry processes for the production of high-density PE resins, such as bimodal film and pipe. LYNX polypropylene (PP) catalyst technologies are used commercially in all major PP process technologies including slurry, bulk loop, stirred gas, fluid gas and stirred bulk.

The acquisition includes technologies, patents, trademarks and production plants in Pasadena, Texas and Tarragona, Spain, as well as approximately 170 employees globally. In addition to its proprietary PP and PE catalysts products and technology, the BASF assets provide Grace with significant additional flexibility and capacity for its global polyolefin manufacturing network.

Bay Bank Approved for Hopkins Federal Savings Bank Merger

Bay Bancorp Inc. (NASDAQ: BYBK), the parent company of Bay Bank, has received regulatory approval to acquire Hopkins Bancorp Inc., parent company of Hopkins Federal Savings Bank, subject to various conditions, including stockholder approval. The parties expect to complete the merger no later than July 2016.

At that time, the Baltimore-based Hopkins Federal Savings Bank branches in Highlandtown and Pikesville will be rebranded with the Bay Bank name, although the Highlandtown branch will be consolidated with Bay Bank’s Highlandtown branch. After a system conversion in late July, all former Hopkins Federal Savings Bank customers will be able to transact business at any of Bay Bank’s 12 branches.

Alvin Lapidus, chairman of Hopkins Federal Savings Bank, will serve as Bay Bank’s chairman emeritus. Once the transaction is closed, Bay Bank will have the fifth largest community bank deposit share in the Baltimore region with assets of approximately $650 million.