Today in Maryland

Maryland has almost $217M more than projected last year

ANNAPOLIS (AP) — Maryland's state revenues are almost $217 million more than projected in the last fiscal year.

Comptroller Peter Franchot provided the new numbers Wednesday while also warning of some troubling economic indicators.

The stronger-than-expected revenue resulted from growth from capital gains. Last year's U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing states to collect tax from online sales also helped by adding to sales and use tax collections.

The additional revenue means the state's general fund balance is now about $351 million. That's compared to the overall operating budget last year of $46.6 billion.

Still, Franchot says some indicators increase the possibility of economic contraction. He says unpredictable swings in trade policy, a ballooning federal deficit and an unprecedented 121 consecutive months of economic expansion suggest national economic volatility.

Child pornography charge upheld against teen who filmed self

ANNAPOLIS (AP) — A court has ruled that a Maryland teen who sent a video of herself performing a sexual act has violated the state's child pornography law.

News outlets report the Maryland Court of Appeals issued the 6-1 decision Wednesday in Annapolis. Court documents say the then-16-year-old, only identified by her initials, texted the video to two teenage friends in Oct. 2016.

The two teens showed the video to a school resource officer a few months later, after the group "fell off as friends."

The court's majority opinion says the law makes no exception for minors who share lewd material of themselves.

Judge Michele D. Hotten was the lone dissenter. She wrote that the law was intended to protect children from exploitation, and the teen was not being exploited in this case.

Maryland agency rejects 2 solar projects in Charles County

BALTIMORE (AP) — A Maryland agency has rejected two proposed solar energy projects in Charles County.

The Maryland Department of the Environment said Wednesday that officials have denied a wetlands and waterways application for the proposed Shugart Valley solar project.

The agency also determined that the proposed Ripley Road solar project didn't satisfy water-quality conditions in the certificate of public convenience and necessity issued by the Public Service Commission.

Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles says while the state supports increased renewable energy sources, these two proposed projects would harm a nearby stream in Charles County and threaten restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Maryland man charged in deaths of Uber driver, passenger

OXON HILL (AP) — A Maryland man faces murder charges in the deaths of an Uber driver and another passenger who was picked up as part of a ride-share option.

Authorities with the Prince George's County Police Department say 42-year-old Aaron Lanier Jr. of Fort Washington faces charges in the shooting deaths of the driver and the second passenger Tuesday in Oxon Hill.

They say 46-year-old Beaudouin Tchakounte of Frederick was the driver who picked up Lanier and later picked up 31-year-old Casey Xavier Robinson of Accokeek.

Police found both men, suffering from gunshots, about 9:45 p.m. in the car that was stopped in a road.

Investigators say they've found no connection between Lanier and the two dead men.

It wasn't clear Wednesday evening if Lanier has an attorney.

Marine Corps enlistee dies after strength test in Maryland

FREDERICK (AP) — An 18-year-old Marine Corps enlistee has died after reportedly taking a strength test at a Maryland recruiting station.

News outlets report medics were called to help Jose Rodriguez at Recruiting Station Frederick last week, shortly after he'd taken a strength test. He died two days later.

The strength test is standard for those who sign up to be in the Marine Corps and includes pullups, two minutes of crunches and a 1½ mile run.

Officials did not say why medics were called. A Marine Corps district spokesman told news outlets the circumstances surrounding Rodriguez's death are being investigated.

News outlets say Rodriguez was enlisted in the Marine Corps' delayed entry program. He was scheduled to report to training at Parris Island, South Carolina, in September.

Man carrying honey, not methamphetamine, jailed for months

ANNE ARUNDEL (AP) — A Maryland man visiting Jamaica decided to bring back some honey from his favorite roadside stand and was jailed for months on the false assumption he was smuggling methamphetamine.

News outlets report Leon Haughton was returning home from a family visit last Christmas when a drug-sniffing dog alerted to his bag at Baltimore's airport. He figures it was the fast-food leftovers he was carrying.

He was arrested and remained jailed despite being granted work release, even after a Maryland state lab, weeks later, found no evidence of drugs in the honey. A follow-up test also was negative.

But because Haughton holds a green-card, it was either jail or potential deportation until his Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer was removed. He spent 82 days behind bars for carrying honey.

Baltimore to use $6M in park funds for ransomware recovery

BALTIMORE (AP) — Baltimore officials have decided to use $6 million in park and public facility funds to help pay for the recovery of a ransomware attack that crippled the city for weeks.

The Baltimore Sun reports the city's spending panel voted Wednesday to use the funds for recovery and "hardening of the environment." A May ransomware attack on city computer servers is estimated to have cost Baltimore about $18.2 million in restoration costs and delayed or lost revenue. The attack came about a year after one hit Baltimore's 911 system.

Mayor Bernard C. Young has said Baltimore may purchase insurance against hackers. The spending panel delayed a vote Wednesday on an $835,000 contract for $20 million in cyber liability coverage. Young says two panel members need to be briefed on the proposal.

Information from: The Baltimore Sun,

Grants announced for environmental education in Baltimore

BALTIMORE (AP) — Baltimore is getting some federal funding for environmental education programs.

Rep. John Sarbanes announced Wednesday that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will provide $120,000 to give high school students immersive environmental education opportunities.

The Parks & People Foundation and the Living Classrooms Foundation will each receive $60,000 to strengthen environmental learning programs in the city.

Both organizations are Baltimore-based nonprofits.

Funding for the Parks & People Foundation will support a new program for Baltimore high school students to explore and design green spaces.

Funding for Living Classrooms will help students work on community service projects to reduce stormwater runoff pollution.

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