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Bill would make possession of ransomware a crime in Maryland

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Photo by Martin Falbisoner, via Wikimedia Commons

By Wesley Brown
Capital News Service

ANNAPOLIS — State lawmakers heard arguments Tuesday on a bill that seeks to add criminal penalties for knowingly possessing ransomware with the intent to use it in a malicious way.

Ransomware is a type of malware that can impede the use of a computer or computer network indefinitely until a ransom is paid. It is already a crime in Maryland to use the malicious technology in a way that costs victims money—this bill would criminalize mere possession of the software.

Returning bill to require background checks on transfer and sale of rifles and shotguns

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Members of the House Judiciary Committee hear testimony on legislation that would regulate the sale and transfer of shotguns and rifles in Maryland. (Capital News Service Photo by Fatemeh Paryavi)

By Fatemeh Paryavi
Capital News Service

ANNAPOLIS — A bill returning to the Maryland legislature this session aims to regulate certain sales and transfers of rifles and shotguns.

Maryland law requires the regulation of the “sale, transfer, rental, and possession of regulated firearms, which consist of handguns and assault weapons,” according to a state analysis. However, this regulation does not currently apply to rifles and shotguns, which lead sponsor of House Bill 4, Del. Vanessa Atterbear (D-Howard County), has been striving to pass.

Hogan focuses new budget on ‘accountability,’ Baltimore crime

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Gov. Larry Hogan holds a press conference at the State House on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, to reveal highlights of the 2021 fiscal budget. (Capital News Service Photo by Alexis Duda.)

By Ryan E. Little
Capital News Service

ANNAPOLIS — The governor’s 2021 budget will prioritize fighting violent crime in Baltimore, provide “record levels” of education funding and finish paying for a major economic development project.

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) released the details of his “Accountability Budget” at a news conference on Tuesday morning. The full text of the $47.9 billion budget isn’t expected until Wednesday, but Hogan touted the highlights that include a 1 percent increase in expenditures with no new taxes.

Analysis: Maryland’s suburbs saw a large influx of prescription opioids from 2006-2012

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Opioids. Photo via Flickr, CC by 2.0.

By Emily Top
Capital News Service

Between 2006 and 2012, Maryland saw a large influx of prescription opioids, more of which, per person, were sent to suburban areas of the state than the urban or rural areas, according to a Drug Enforcement Administration database published by The Washington Post.

Much of the rest of the nation also saw suburban areas hit harder than rural or urban areas, but Maryland saw fewer pills per person on average than across the nation.

Additionally, urban areas in Maryland had the lowest number of pills per person—compared with rural areas and suburbs—whereas nationally, urban areas had the second-largest influx of prescription opioids per person.

Election Guide: a look at the race for Rep. Elijah Cummings’ seat

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Image via Elijah Cummings’ website

By Nora Eckert
Capital News Service

Nearly two months after Rep. Elijah Cummings’ death, 32 candidates–including his widow, a former staffer and several state lawmakers–are competing in the packed race to fill his seat.

The longtime Baltimore congressman died Oct. 17 from “longstanding health conditions,” according to spokesperson. The 68-year-old Democrat left behind a legacy of fighting for civil rights, lowering prescription drug prices and most recently, serving as a powerful voice on the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

Now, a pack of 24 Democrats and 8 Republicans are either challenging that legacy or dedicating their platforms to continuing it.

MD lawmakers expect education to dominate 2020 session

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The dome of Maryland’s State House rises above buildings in Annapolis, Maryland, on Nov. 5, 2019. (Capital News Service photo by Elliott Davis.)

By Elliott Davis
Capital News Service

ANNAPOLIS — Reforming Maryland’s public education system. Building new schools. Addressing gun safety. Funding the state’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities. These are some of the issues that Maryland state lawmakers expect to dominate the 2020 General Assembly session.

When legislators return to Annapolis in early January, much will be different.

There will be new committee assignments. With multiple lawmakers having resigned during the fall, there will be new faces at the State House.

MD youths needing psychiatric care find long waits, drives

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By Natalie Jones
Capital News Service

The first time Jeannine LeMieux’s daughter was hospitalized for a psychotic episode, she was only 8 years old.

LeMieux took her daughter to a hospital emergency room near her home on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where it was determined that she needed to be hospitalized. Her first admission was to Sheppard Pratt, a privately run psychiatric hospital with child and adolescent inpatient units in Towson, nearly a two-hour drive away.

“They didn’t do anything,” said her daughter, now 19. “I just remember a kid that smacked me in my face one time.”

As pilot episode for ‘The President is Missing’ readies to film in Maryland, there’s hope of a sizable economic impact

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Actor David Oyelowo is reportedly starring in “The President is Missing.” Image via IMDB.

By Ben Cooper
Capital News Service

After the Netflix series “House of Cards” had an economic impact of more than $700 million on Maryland while filming its six seasons in the state from 2012 to 2018, there’s hope that a new television show can make its mark in 2020.

Gov. Larry Hogan announced in October that a pilot episode for a potential new Showtime series, “The President is Missing,” starring David Oyelowo, is set to begin filming in Maryland in early 2020. Maryland Film Office director Jack Gerbes is optimistic about its prospective influence on the state’s economy.

Pugh pleads guilty to four of 11 counts

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Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh exits the U.S. District Court in Baltimore on Nov. 21, 2019, after pleading guilty to four counts — one each of conspiracy and fraud and two counts of tax evasion. (Ian Round/Capital News Service).

By Ian Round
Capital News Service

Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh pleaded guilty Thursday to four of the 11 counts against her related to the sales of “Healthy Holly” children’s books.

At the U.S. District Court in Baltimore, Pugh pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and two counts of tax evasion. She pleaded not guilty to seven counts of wire fraud.

Comptroller announces largest tobacco bust in agency history

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Boxes of contraband tobacco products recovered in a bust crowd a storage room in the Louis L. Goldstein Treasury Building in Annapolis on Nov. 20, 2019. (Capital News Service photo by Eric Myers.)

By Eric Myers
Capital News Service

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) on Wednesday announced the agency’s largest tobacco bust ever, resulting in over $450,000 worth of seized contraband tobacco products.

The raid, which took place on Nov. 5, recovered 521 packs of untaxed cigarettes, 1,246 untaxed premium cigars and 7,866 packages of untaxed loose and hookah tobacco products. Combined, those products represent a tax loss of over $286,000 for the state.

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