- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 8, 2006

FLORIDA

Bush outlines agenda for last year in office

TALLAHASSEE — In his final State of the State address yesterday, Gov. Jeb Bush proposed cutting $1.5 billion in taxes and spending millions to prepare the state for future hurricanes.

Praised for guiding the state through two of its worst hurricane seasons — a total of eight hurricanes — Mr. Bush said he wants to spend $50 million to help low-income homeowners install hurricane shutters and reinforce roofs. He also called for a tougher statewide building code and more money for emergency operations centers.

Also high on his list of priorities is finding a way to preserve the nation’s first statewide school voucher program. The state Supreme Court found the program unconstitutional earlier this year.

Mr. Bush, who took office in 1999, can’t seek re-election because of term limits.

MISSOURI

U.S. lets family host Vietnam orphan

SPRINGFIELD — Reversing an earlier decision, U.S. immigration officials will allow a Missouri family to bring a sick Vietnamese orphan to the United States for treatment, the family said yesterday.

“It is the answer to a prayer,” said Dr. Melvin Karges, who with his wife is trying to help the 6-year-old boy get medical treatment that he can’t get in Vietnam.

Tuan Van Cao has a potentially fatal bone infection that developed after a botched operation on his diseased left hip.

Parole and Humanitarian Assistance Branch of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services last month refused to issue a humanitarian waiver for the child, instead telling the Kargeses to try the lengthy processing of international adoption, which can take a year or more.

As an orphan, Tuan does not qualify for a regular visa.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Bishop back to work after rehabilitation

CONCORD — Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson is back on the job after spending a month receiving treatment for an alcohol problem.

“He is going to kind of ease back in to things,” Robinson spokesman Mike Barwell said yesterday.

The New Hampshire bishop returned from treatment last week and came into the office Monday for the first time in a month. Mr. Barwell said Bishop Robinson was catching up with work and not granting interviews.

The Episcopal Church’s first openly homosexual bishop surprised many when he disclosed last month that he was being treated for his “increasing dependence” on alcohol. His assistant, the Rev. Tim Rich, said Bishop Robinson’s growing awareness of his problem, rather than a crisis, prompted the move.

NEW JERSEY

Bars, bowling alleys sue over smoking ban

ATLANTIC CITY — Fuming that a New Jersey smoking ban excludes the state’s casinos, a coalition of bars, restaurants and bowling alley operators sued the state yesterday, claiming the law is unconstitutional.

“What’s happening here is that the state of New Jersey is giving an unfair advantage to the Atlantic City casinos,” said plaintiff Armando Frallicciardi Jr., proprietor of Lorenzo’s Restaurant, a Trenton landmark known for its cigar-friendly atmosphere.

The New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act, which goes into effect April 15, bans smoking in restaurants, bars, private office buildings and other indoor places, but it permits it on the casino floors of Atlantic City’s 12 gambling halls.

Some supporters said the exemption was needed to keep the casinos competitive with those in other states where smoking is allowed.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court.

NEW YORK

Woodruff recovering, starting to walk

NEW YORK — Five weeks after ABC anchorman Bob Woodruff was seriously injured in an explosion in Iraq, he remains hospitalized but is able to say a few words and is starting to walk, his brother said yesterday .

“In the last couple of days, he’s taken a lot of great leaps forward,” David Woodruff said. “He’s definitely doing so much better.”

Bob Woodruff, 44, is still on heavy pain medication as his body recovers from the serious head injuries and other wounds. But he recognizes people, he can tell his daughter he loves her, and the multilingual journalist has even said a few words in Chinese and German, his brother told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

The first response David Woodruff recalls getting from his brother in the hospital was a smile when he told him, “I hate to tell you this, but you still have a face for TV.”

SOUTH DAKOTA

Pro-choice groups ready to fight law

PIERRE — Pro-choice advocates yesterday responded to South Dakota’s strict new abortion law by organizing protests, raising money and debating whether to use legal action or a statewide vote to try to strike down the law.

The actions came a day after South Dakota Gov. Michael Rounds signed what is considered the most restrictive abortion law in the nation. Backers of the measure, which outlaws abortions in virtually any circumstance, say it was designed as a vehicle to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that established a woman’s right to an abortion.

Mr. Rounds said he expects the law to be mired in litigation for years. A Planned Parenthood official confirmed litigation was an option, but said abortion rights supporters might try to kill the law quickly through a statewide referendum this fall.

Pro-choice advocates are planning a “day of solidarity” tomorrow with supporters encouraged to rally at federal courtrooms across the nation, said Sarah Stoesz, chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood operations in South Dakota, Minnesota and North Dakota. An Internet fund-raising campaign also is under way.

Mr. Rounds held a press conference yesterday to reiterate his support of the law and his desire that it help lead to a ban on abortions across the United States.

VERMONT

Town endorses move to impeach Bush

NEWFANE — In a white-clapboard Town Hall, circa 1832, voters gathered yesterday to conduct their community’s business and to call for the impeachment of President Bush.

“In the U.S., presently there are only a few places where citizens can act in this fashion and have a say in our nation,” said select board member Dan DeWalt, who drafted the impeachment article that was placed on the warning — or official agenda — for the annual town meeting, a proud Yankee tradition in New England.

“It absolutely affects us locally,” Mr. Dewalt said. “It’s our sons and daughters, our mothers and fathers, who are dying” in the war in Iraq.

The article, approved 121-29 in balloting by paper, calls on Vermont’s lone member of the House, independent Rep. Bernard Sanders, to file articles of impeachment against the president, claiming that Mr. Bush misled the nation into the Iraq war and engaged in illegal domestic spying.

The impeachment item came at the end of a roughly four-hour meeting that was devoted mostly to the local affairs of the town of 1,600. Among the other items discussed was whether the town should fix some of the 100-year-old sidewalks in the village.

From staff reports and wire dispatches

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