The state Senate unanimously approved and sent to the House yesterday two measures aimed at protecting Maryland's children from pedophiles lurking on the "information highway."
Senate Bills 21 and 22 would expressly prohibit the use of computers to transmit or display child pornography.
They also would make soliciting sex from children through computer bulletin boards illegal. Those offenses would be punishable by a $25,000 fine and 10 years in jail.
"It is clear that the purveyors of pornography have moved into the age of the 'information highway,' " pediatrician Dr. Melvin Stern testified.
The bills, sponsored by Sen. John A. Pica Jr., a Baltimore Democrat, also would prohibit individuals, newsstands and other businesses from distributing or exhibiting pornography to children.
A $1,000 fine and a year in prison would be the punishment for a first offense.
House approves coyote trapping season
The House approved a measure yesterday that would allow the state to establish a trapping season for coyotes.
The state Department of Natural Resources has asked for the authority to regulate the coyote population, saying the animals -- 280 so far -- have invaded Maryland and are eating livestock and wildlife.
Opponents, including the Humane Society of the United States and the Maryland League for Animal Welfare, argue that trapping is inhumane. Del. Marsha G. Perry, an Anne Arundel Democrat, said the threat of coyotes was exaggerated. "The Eastern Coyote is not a menace," said Delegate Perry, adding that traps may also catch dogs and cats.
But Del. Ronald A. Guns, a Cecil County Democrat, said the threat was real and cited a recent incident in which a coyote
cornered his dog. Mr. Guns also said that traps were not cruel and set one off with his hand to prove his point.
House Bill 797, approved 87 to 50, now moves to the state Senate.