- The Washington Times - Friday, April 9, 2010

CALIFORNIA

Bill would create annual Reagan Day

SACRAMENTO | California is one step closer to establishing an annual day honoring Ronald Reagan, the former president, governor and actor.

The state Senate on Thursday unanimously passed a bill designating Feb. 6 as Ronald Reagan Day. It encourages schools to spend the day commemorating Reagan’s life and accomplishments.

The legislation, which heads to the Assembly, is one of three Reagan-themed bills Republican lawmakers hope to pass before Feb. 6, 2011. That would have been the 100th birthday of the conservative icon, who died in 2004.

Ronald Reagan Day would be the third special day of recognition in California dedicated to an individual.

The first honors conservationist John Muir. Last year, lawmakers honored Harvey Milk, a gay activist and former San Francisco supervisor who was slain at City Hall in 1978.

HOUSE

Party urges Stupak to seek re-election

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. | The two top-ranking Democrats in the U.S. House fear Rep. Bart Stupak may retire after drawing fierce criticism during the health care debate and have urged him to seek re-election, congressional aides told Associated Press on Wednesday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer phoned Mr. Stupak recently and encouraged the Michigan Democrat to run for a 10th term, said two Democratic House leadership aides who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the private conversations.

A statement released by Mr. Stupak’s office said he always consults with family and constituents before deciding whether to seek re-election.

“This year is no different,” the statement said. “In the meantime, campaign plans are proceeding, and the congressman is pleased with the outpouring of support across his district. In fact, he’s already acquired over a thousand signatures needed to file for re-election on May 11.”

Mr. Stupak led a small group of House Democrats who withheld support for the health care overhaul until the last minute because of fears it would allow public money to be spent for abortions.

CONGRESS

Judge OK’s ‘final’ delay in lawsuit

A judge has granted more time for Congress to approve a $3.4 billion settlement against the government for swindling Indian tribes out of royalties for oil, gas and grazing leases.

U.S. District Judge James Robertson said the delay is the last he will approve. It’s the third delay since the lawsuit settlement was announced in December.

The proposed settlement calls for the Interior Department to distribute $1.4 billion to more than 300,000 Indian tribe members. The department also would have to spend $2 billion to buy back and consolidate tribal land broken up in previous generations.

If Congress does not confirm the settlement by mid-May, Judge Robertson says he will order Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to appear before him to explain why.

TRANSPORTATION

On-time flights fewer in February

NEW YORK | The Department of Transportation says U.S. airlines operated fewer on-time flights in February as massive snowstorms hampered operations at some of the largest East Coast airports.

Sixty-one flights were delayed for at least three hours during the month - triple the number of those delays in January. It was the highest number of three-hour tarmac delays since August 2009.

DOT said cancellations also soared in February because of storms. Airlines canceled 5.5 percent of their scheduled domestic flights that month, compared with 2.5 percent in January and 1.2 percent in February 2009.

Hawaiian Airlines, largely isolated from bad weather, held its usual spot on top of the on-time rankings.

The worst at arriving on time were Comair, Pinnacle and JetBlue.

HAZMAT

Feds fault oversight of explosives tests

The federal agency that regulates the transport of hazardous materials failed for at least a decade to inspect or conduct safety reviews of the four private laboratories it pays to test explosives, a government watchdog has found.

The Transportation Department’s inspector general said in a memo released Thursday that an investigation has found problems with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s safety oversight that require “immediate attention.”

Explosive substances or articles must be tested before they can receive federal approval for transport. The testing determines how the products will be classified and thus what safety regulations will apply.