State Roundup, May 22, 2017

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Presentation of Woodlawn vase to owners of Preakness winner, from left, William Lawrence, Seth Klarman, Mayor Catherine Pugh, Gov. Larry Hogan and Belinda Stronach. Governor's Office Photo

FUTURE OF PIMLICO: Roxanne Roberts of the Post writes about Belinda Stronach, the president of Stronach Group, owner of the Pimlico Race Course. She’s looking for ways to modernize racing to bring younger people into the sport and save the Preakness.

POLITICS AT THE PREAKNESS: Michael Dresser reports for the Sun that elected officials, would-be office-holders and retired politicos flocked Saturday to Old Hilltop to mingle with colleagues, voters and potential donors. From Gov. Larry Hogan to back-benchers in the House of Delegates, the draw of Maryland’s largest sporting event proved irresistible.

MIXED ECONOMIC MESSAGES: Talk about sending mixed messages, the latest jobs report for Maryland can be read as good news or the precursor of bad economic news, writes Barry Rascovar for MarylandReporter. Maryland added 3,500 jobs in April. That’s good, right? Well, yes, but remember in March Maryland lost 7,900 jobs. Want another mixed message? Maryland’s unemployment rate rose slightly to 4.3%. That’s a disturbing sign, small though it may be.

SEA GRANT PROGRAM’s UNCERTAIN FATE: Coastal states throughout the nation have come to depend on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Sea Grant programs for research and education on issues ranging from storm damage, erosion and sea level rise to aquaculture. But those 33, university based programs face an uncertain under President Trump’s budget proposal, which would cut the entire sea grant program, reports Katie Peikes for WYPR-FM.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING CONVICTIONS HARD TO COME BY: As local police aggressively uncover evidence of human trafficking with double the amount of investigative resources they had more than two years ago, prosecutors are still struggling to win convictions. Nearly 75% of charges in cases prosecuted under the felony sex trafficking provision of the law in Howard County Circuit Court were dropped over the last seven years, according to a Baltimore Sun Media group analysis. Meanwhile, service providers who work for agencies that advocate for victims and provide social services say coordinated services to help victims are scant despite ambitious agendas by county and state officials, Fatimah Waseem reports in the Howard County Times.

IMMIGRANT WAVE: Tucked into a corner off Eastern Avenue in Highlandtown, there are Latino-owned restaurants, blacked-owned barbershops, and one small grocery store owned by an immigrant-Nepalese family that opened in 2013. Dominique Maria Bonessi of WYPR-FM reports on the immigrant population that has revitalized Highlandtown.

VEGAS SHOPPING CENTER CONFERENCE: Politicians, economic development officials and developers from Maryland are in Las Vegas for the International Council of Shopping Centers’ annual conference, Pamela Wood and Luke Broadwater report for the Sun. Officials attend the conference to tout local projects in hopes of attracting national retailers and restaurants — and also network among themselves. Many officials and government employees travel at taxpayer expense to the conference, which began Sunday and runs through Wednesday.

VEGAS FUND-RAISER FOR HOGAN: Want to go to a private party with Gov. Larry Hogan in Las Vegas? It’ll cost you between $2,500 to $10,000, reports Melody Simmons for the Baltimore Business Journal. For the second consecutive year, the Republican Governor’s Association is hosting a fundraiser for Hogan during the International Council of Shopping Centers RECon convention.

BUSCH FILES FOR RE-ELECTION: The longest-serving Maryland speaker of the House of Delegates, Michael E. Busch, who has represented District 30 and Annapolis since 1987, filed for re-election Friday, reports Pat Furgurson for the Annapolis Capital.

DOUG DUNCAN: In this first of a two-part series on Doug Duncan, former Montgomery County executive, Bruce DePuyt writes in Maryland Matters that Duncan has been heading up Leadership Greater Washington. The mission is large — and Duncan, two and a half years in, likes the work. And he thinks the organization is moving the needle.

IT’s THE GOVERNMENT: Jerry Cothran, a consultant on government matters, in an opinion piece for the Sun, opines that “It’s clear that Baltimore has a number of systemic government issues, including mismanagement, that have resulted in a decades-long exodus out of the city. From 1970 to 2000, Baltimore’s total population declined nearly 30 percent. That hemorrhaging of population continues, as evidenced by more than 6,700 people leaving in the 12 months that ended in July 2016.”

A BONAPARTE LIKE FBI CHIEF: Former Sun editor G. Jefferson Price III, in a column for the Sun, writes that: “The nation will be well-served if the next individual selected to run the Federal Bureau of Investigation embodies the same high character as the first founder of the agency. That man was a Baltimorean whose courage, integrity and honesty would be profound in this day and age and were quite extraordinary for a man in his place and time in history more than a century ago. His name was Charles Joseph Bonaparte.”

CARDIN BILL & IRAN DEAL: The Senate is poised to approve new legislation, co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, that would hand President Donald Trump ammunition he could use to erode the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, despite the fact that the agreement is working and that keeping it intact benefits U.S. national security, opines Kelsey Davenport, of the nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association, in the Sun.

FEMALE CANDIDATE FOR AA SHERIFF: Saying she wants to “restore honor” to the sheriff’s department, Beth Smith on Friday announced she is vying to become the first female sheriff in the 300-year history of the office, writes Amanda Yeager for the Annapolis Capital. Smith, a former lieutenant in the Anne Arundel County Sheriff’s Office, will challenge incumbent Sheriff Ron Bateman, who was acquitted last year of allegations that he assaulted his wife.

EMERGING IN ANNE ARUNDEL: So far, six alumnae of Emerge Maryland have announced their intentions to run for office in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County in 2017 or 2018, including former school board members Debbie Ritchie and Allison Pickard, Amanda Yeager of the Annapolis Capital reports. The organization, a chapter of the national Emerge America group, has been grooming female candidates for office since it was established in 2012.

PG COUNCILMAN PLEADS GUILTY: Prince George’s County Council member Mel Franklin (Upper Marlboro-D) pleaded guilty Friday to driving under the influence in a crash that wrecked a government vehicle and injured two people, Lynh Bui of the Post reports.