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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) The state Senate has approved raising the Maryland alcohol tax by three percentage points over three years to nine percent. Analysts estimate the increase would raise about $29 million in the next fiscal year. It would raise $58 million in the following year and $85 million in the third year.

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) Closing arguments are being heard in the trial of a man accused in the slayings of three students who were bound for Delaware State University. Raymond Morasse contends his client, Alexander Alfaro, was pressured by police into lying about his involvement in the killings of three college-bound friends in a Newark playground.

BALTIMORE (AP) The new mascot for the Preakness Stakes is drawing criticism. The Kegasus mascot introduced yesterday is a half-man, half-horse horse centaur with a nipple ring and a beer gut. Kegasus urges those coming to infield at Pimlico Race Course for the second leg of racing's Triple Crown to be legendary, a reference to the infield's reputation for hard partying.

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) State wildlife managers say more hibernating bats have been found to be infected with a disease fatal to the winged mammals in a western Maryland cave. The Department of Natural Resources says bats infected with white-nose syndrome were found in four of 10 mines in an abandoned mine complex in Washington County.

TOWSON, Md. (AP) Prosecutors are again trying a Parkville man who they say threatened Gov. O'Malley in an email. Forty-seven-year-old Walter Abbott is charged with making a threat of bodily injury to a public official. Authorities say Abbott threatened to "strangle the life" from O'Malley.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) Delegate Kathy Afzali has gone from being happy to have the governor's support for her bill to provide tax relief to farmers to being what she describes as "sickened" by politicking that now threatens its passage. The Republican freshman from Frederick County surprised Annapolis insiders earlier this year when she secured Democratic Gov. O'Malley's support for her bill.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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