The Washington Times - March 24, 2011, 08:36AM

A writer for a conservative-leaning blog is using his online presence to launch a campaign for the Virginia House seat of Fairfax Democrat Mark Keam.

Brian Schoeneman formally announced his candidacy on the blog, Bearing Drift, after the Washington Post reported his campaign filings Tuesday.

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Mr. Schoeneman writes that he first thought of running for the seat when his wife suggested he “do something” instead of just ranting about issues.

“As I am fond of saying—criticizing is easy; governing is hard,” he wrote. “And while I love blogging and I love sharing my opinions with all of you, the time has come for me to translate those opinions into action.”

Mr. Schoeneman, a federal transportation lobbyist, says he’s been active with the Fairfax County Republican County for five years and has been blogging for two years. He also writes for the blog Common Sense.

Morning Roundup: March 24

Abortion-rights activists appeal to McDonnell; Synthetic marijuana banned in Virginia; D.C. agencies overspend; Truant Metro board member made $36,000; Maryland poised to pass booze tax; O’Malley offers deal to pass wind energy initiative.

ABORTION RIGHTS ACTIVISTS are urging Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, a Republican, to amend a bill requiring stricter regulations for abortion clinics to include all physicians’ offices where outpatient procedures are performed. They asked Tuesday that the governor ensure that the bill doesn’t single out abortion clinics for special treatment. Supporters of the new law, approved by the General Assembly in February, have argued that the stricter regulations are not about restricting access to abortions but about ensuring the safety of women who are treated at the clinics.

Those who oppose the law counter that if the bill is not about abortion, it also should require new regulations for doctors’ offices where other procedures are performed, such as spinal taps and colonoscopies, The Washington Post reports.

VIRGINIA GOV. ROBERT F. MCDONNELL singed legislation Wednesday criminalizing the sale and possession of synthetic marijuana, commonly referred to as “Spice” or “K2.” The substance is chemically treated plant matter that produces a high similar to marijuana when smoked. The General Assembly unanimously approved versions of the bill last month, according to the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot.

D.C. AGENCIES are on track to overspend their current budgets by $42 million or more, Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi told city leaders Wednesday. Mr. Gandhi said the worst-case scenario is roughly $58.4 million. Among the city’s big costs is the $11 million for recent settlements in long-running cases surrounding the 2002 mass arrests at Pershing Park and mass arrests made at the 2000 World Bank/International Monetary Fund protests. The figure includes fees for not only the plaintiffs’ attorneys, but also outside lawyers representing city officials, according to the Washington Post.

A METRO BOARD MEMBER who missed nearly two-thirds of the board’s meetings in 2010 still earned $36,073.24 — far more than all other board members, according to the Washington Examiner. The board member, Marcell Solomon, was an alternate for Prince George’s County, which terminated his contract in December. The compensation for Metro’s 14-member board varies widely by jurisdiction. Federal appointees and D.C. representatives don’t earn anything but free rides. Virginia members earn $50 for each meeting they attend, while Maryland representatives earn about $20,000 per year.THE MARYLAND SENATE is poised to hand residents their first, and maybe be their only, tax increase of 2011: a 3 percent increase on booze that over the next few years will add about 80 cents to a case of beer or fifth of top-shelf liquor, according to the Washington Examiner.

MARYLAND GOV. MARTIN O’MALLEY is offering an amendment to his signature offshore wind energy legislation, an 11th-hour effort to get the General Assembly to pass it before their legislative session ends in three weeks, the Baltimore Sun reports. Lawmakers have been reluctant about the plan and its associated costs, which would be passed along to utility customers across the state.

To allay fears about rate increases, the Democratic governor on Wednesday suggested an amendment limiting the added consumer cost to a maximum of $2 per month in the first year. Sen. Thomas Middleton, a Democrat and chairman of the Senate committee considering the proposal, recently suggested further study of the plan before lawmakers embrace it.

THE MARYLAND SENATE is poised to hand residents their first, and maybe be their only, tax increase of 2011 — a 3 percentage-point increase on booze that over the next few years will add about 80 cents to a case of beer or fifth of top-shelf liquor, according to the Washington Times.