PUGH SENTENCED TO 3 YEARS: Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, who held elected offices in Baltimore for two decades and was elevated by voters to lead the city after the upheaval of 2015, was sentenced to three years in federal prison Thursday for a fraud scheme involving a children’s book series, reports Luke Broadwater, Justin Fenton and Kevin Rector for the Sun.
- The prosecutors wanted 5 years; the defense wanted 1. The judge settled on 3 years, but not before a tongue-lashing calling the crimes “astounding,” Fern Shen reports for Baltimore Brew.
- At the hearing, her attorneys, and Pugh herself, portrayed the former Baltimore mayor as broken, a bed-ridden recluse who spent most of the past 10 months curled up in a ball sobbing, reports Adam Bednar for The Daily Record.
- It’s not yet known where Pugh is headed, Emily Opilo writes for the Sun. Federal Bureau of Prisons officials will make that call based on the needs outlined in her pre-sentence report and where bed space for women is available.
- There is no set date but U.S. District Court Judge Deborah Chasanow noted April 13 is the latest Pugh could report to prison, reports Emily Sullivan for WYPR.
- The former mayor thanked her supporters after her sentencing and promised this wouldn’t be her “last chapter,” reports Holden Wilen for the Baltimore Business Journal.
- Pugh wrote her own downfall by fraudulently selling children’s books to organizations with which she was politically connected, reports Ryan Little for The Capital News Service.
- Maryland leaders are reacting to Pugh’s sentencing with disappointment toward her actions but hope for the future of the city, WJZ-TV reports.
HOGAN REQUESTS $10 MILLION FOR CORONAVIRUS PREP: Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday that two more Marylanders are being tested for the coronavirus that has sickened more than 80,000 people globally, reports Meredith Cohn for the Sun. Hogan also said he would be submitting a supplemental budget request for $10 million for the effort.
- The University of Maryland announced Wednesday that it is suspending study-abroad programs in South Korea due to the coronavirus outbreak, reports Eric Neugeboren for the Diamondback.
- Top state health officials are in communication with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state officials have been working with hospitals to develop plans, reports Brian Witte for the AP. Maryland’s health officials also are keeping in touch with health officials in neighboring states.
- Many Maryland school districts have stepped up their public information campaigns regarding a possible coronavirus outbreak, reports Tim Tooten for WBAL-TV.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONSIDERS DISTRACTED-DRIVING CAMERAS: Sen. Katherine Klausmeier emphasized to a panel of Maryland lawmakers on Thursday the need for legislation that would allow the use of distracted-driving monitoring systems on highways throughout the state, Bryan Renbaum writes for MarylandReporter.com.
- A mother-daughter team is sharing their story in support of a Maryland bill that would use technology to send a photo of distracted drivers to violators in the mail, reports Megan Pringle for WBAL.
SHERIFF, TROOPER SAVE EXONEREE IN ANNAPOLIS: When a man suffered a heart attack outside a state Senate hearing chamber Wednesday in Annapolis, Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins and a Maryland State Police trooper were quick to help, Jeremy Arias writes for the Frederick News-Post. The man, who had spent close to 40 years behind bars for a murder conviction from which he was eventually exonerated, was revived after having no pulse.
- Walter Lomax, who spent 39 years of his life behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit, was about to testify before a Maryland Senate committee Wednesday when he slumped over and his heart stopped beating, reports Ovetta Wiggins for the Post. a state trooper and the Frederick County sheriff administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation for 9½ minutes — probably saving Lomax’s life.
- WJZ-TV was interviewing Lomax in Annapolis about his involvement in a bill that would improve how Maryland compensates people who have been wrongfully convicted and incarcerated, Rachel Menitoff reports for WJZ. Moments after the interview, Lomax collapsed.
HOGAN OPPOSES STOPPING ICE ACCESS TO MVA FILES: Gov. Larry Hogan is opposed to cutting off warrantless access for immigration authorities to the photos and personal data of 7 million state residents held by the Maryland Vehicle Administration — including approximately 275,000 undocumented immigrants, reports Erin Cox for the Post.
FROSH ON CRIME BILL: Maryland senators are weighing a bill that would direct an additional $2.5 million to the Office of the Attorney General to fight violent crime in the city of Baltimore, but Attorney General Brian Frosh isn’t sold on the measure, reports Danielle Gaines for Maryland Matters.
PROTECTIVE-ORDER BILL: A divided Senate passed legislation Thursday that would enable alleged victims of sexual assault to seek protective court orders against acquaintances who allegedly attacked them, reports Steve Lash with The Daily Record.
OPPOSITION TO PAID FAMILY LEAVE: Business owners and organizations called on lawmakers Thursday to reject legislation that would impose a mandatory paid family leave policy on nearly every company in Maryland, reports Bryan Sears with The Daily Record.
CONSUMER PROTECTION FOR HOSPITAL BILLS: Maryland hospitals sued their patients over unpaid bills more than 145,700 times in the 10 years that ended in 2018, leading to wage garnishments, liens and bankruptcies, according to a new report from a coalition of consumer groups and unions, reports Meredith Cohn for the Sun. A rally and legislative hearing are scheduled for Friday on bills to better protect consumers.
FIREARM-THEFT BILL GOES TO HEARING: The House Judiciary Committee will hear a bill next week that would make stealing a firearm a felony offense, creating a higher barrier for illegal firearm possession, reports Renée Shreve for the Cumberland Times-News.
SOME CHILDREN IN PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITALS HAVE NOWHERE TO GO: Children in Maryland’s foster care system spend weeks, sometimes months, in psychiatric hospitals after doctors and even judges say they no longer need to be there because local social workers say they have nowhere else for the kids to go, reports Rachel Baye for WYPR. A state lawmaker is trying to change that.
SOUTHERN MD UNIVERSITY FUNDING CUT: The state this month has recommended cutting funding from the University System of Maryland at Southern Maryland, and the local higher education center’s director is not happy about it, reports Kristen Griffith for the St. Mary’s Enterprise.
HOWARD SCHOOL BOARD VIOLATED OPEN MEETINGS ACT: The Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board concluded earlier this month that the Howard County Board of Education violated the Open Meeting Act by having a quorum when in a recess during a contentious redistricting vote in November, reports Jess Nocera for Baltimore Sun Media. The state Open Meetings Act does not permit private discussion among the majority of school board members on the formation of new policy and requires a public body to cite an exception to the act before entering into closed-door discussions.
COUNTIES WILL GET A CHOICE FOR WIRELESS ELECTIONS: State elections officials voted Thursday to give Maryland’s largest counties a choice on whether to connect to use a new wireless data network in the 2020 elections — but will keep hundreds of routers in operation even if counties choose not to fully implement the systems, reports Danielle Gaines for Maryland Matters.
DEFINING AGRICULTURAL EDUCATION: For a third straight General Assembly session, a Carroll County delegate has introduced a bill designed to more clearly define agriculture education for school boards statewide, reports Akira Kyles for the Carroll County Times.