Two Republican members of the county’s legislative delegation have finished meeting with state leaders about how to modify criminal gang laws statewide, but their work is far from finished.
Sen. Michael Hough (R-Frederick and Carroll) and Del. Jesse Pippy (R-Frederick and Carroll) both met with federal and state prosecutors, public defenders, law enforcement, the American Civil Liberties Union and other state officials as part of the Task Force to Study Maryland’s Criminal Gang Statutes.
Hough and Pippy said the group will now focus on introducing legislation in the General Assembly next year to help strengthen laws related to criminal gangs.
Hough, chairman of the task force, said its members voted to focus on several initiatives, including increasing money for witness protection at the state level and crafting changes to make state law work like the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), used to attack organized corruption.
“I think the main part that we’re going to have to get through the General Assembly will be making it more of a federal RICO statute. ... I think some people that were worried about the use of the gang statute to target current minorities,” Hough said. “I think that this will alleviate some of that concern.”
Pippy said that a recent case at a Baltimore jail would fall under this proposal.
“There was a group of correction officers that were essentially running a gang,” Pippy said. “They were conducting criminal activity for the benefit of the gang. Here we had a scenario where the prisoners who weren’t doing anything wrong; it was the prison guards.”
Hough also noted the group’s recommendations will be sent to Gov. Larry Hogan (R) for review.
The start of next year’s General Assembly is scheduled for noon on Jan. 8 in Annapolis.
Trone talks bill to lower prescription drug costsRecently, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that aims to reduce prescription drug prices.
Rep. David Trone (D-Md.), who represents the 6th District, which includes portions of Frederick County, said the bill is an important step in helping Marylanders afford insulin, cancer drugs and other medicines.
According to a report recently released by his office, the bill, named for the late Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), would decrease costs per senior patient by the following amounts:
- Breast cancer medicine from $69,000 to $23,900 per year.
- Leukemia medicine from from $93,700 to $27,400 per year.
- Insulin from $19,800 to $4,800 per year.
- Prostate cancer medicine from $109,500 to $37,400 per year.
“These are huge numbers across the board, and it will address the top 35 or so drugs right off the bat in the first year,” Trone said.
“President Trump ran incessantly and talked about during his campaign, the importance of lower drug costs,” Trone said about the bill’s chances before the Senate and -resident. “Why would any Republican want to have higher drug prices? ... This clearly should be bipartisan.”
Cox supports repeal of Widow’s Tax for military familiesDel. Dan Cox (R-Frederick and Carroll) was happy to see a military widow’s tax repealed earlier this week.
The move was part of a $738 billion budget passed by the U.S. Senate, which includes and repeal of the widow’s tax and reform to the Feres Doctrine, which “prevented relief from service personnel who suffered medically caused trauma and even death,” according to a news release.
Cox lobbied Congress, including Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who represents the state’s 5th District.
“This is big news for the 27,185 veterans in District 4,” Cox said in an email.