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City State: Morning Roundup

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MARYLAND LEGISLATORS entered this year's General Assembly session floating an increase in the alcohol tax primarily as a way to funnel money into programs to help the developmentally disabled, the mentally ill, substance abusers and other groups. But when the Democrat-controlled assembly passed a bill last week increasing the sales tax on alcohol, less than 20 percent of the tax increase's $87 million in projected first-year revenue was slated to go to such causes, according to The Washington Times.

THE SUSPECT IN THE LULULEMON ATHLETICA MURDER and the fellow sales clerk she allegedly killed inside the Bethesda store were the perfect sales team. How the relationship turned so quickly, and how nothing in suspect Britanny Norwood's past suggests she could have done what police allege, continue to baffle police, family and friends, according to The Washington Post.

VIRGINIA GOV. ROBERT F. MCDONNELL unexpectedly has secured a seat on the 14-person Metro board. But it's not clear who will be pushed out. Some think Fairfax County will lose a seat on the board, but Arlington or Alexandria also could lose its direct role in Metro affairs. Either way, the change means yet more upheaval at the transit agency. Seven of the board seats already have changed hands in the past four months, with longtime veterans fleeing by choice or force, the Washington Examiner reports.

THE SURRY NUCLEAR PLANT in Virginia was running at diminished capacity Sunday after the effects of Saturday's severe weather. Officials of the power company Dominion said a tornado apparently touched down on the switchyard supporting the station, cutting off the electrical feed from the grid to the station, according to the Newport News (Va.) Daily Press. A backup generator kept power running to both reactors. No release of radioactive material has occurred beyond those minor releases associated with normal station operations, officials said.

WHEN D.C. MAYOR VINCENT C. GRAY got arrested for blocking traffic during a protest last week, folks such as Barton Turner got inspired. "I'm honored by that, as a citizen," said the 57-year-old Northwest Washington resident while holding a one-man protest outside the John A. Wilson Building. "I'm thinking I'm going to get arrested next week." Mr. Turner was alone, yet he reflected the large number of D.C. residents fuming over a federal budget deal that they say took a swipe at D.C.'s autonomy. That fervor, it seems, might save Mr. Gray's political career, The Washington Times reports.

A BILL REQUIRING D.C COUNCIL APPROVAL of all deputy mayoral appointees is likely to set up the first battle between Mayor Vincent C. Gray, a  Democrat, and the council members he once led as chairman. The emergency bill is scheduled to be introduced Tuesday and is meant to immediately require Mr. Gray to submit for council confirmation his deputy mayor for health and human services and for public safety.

Mr. Gray has asked the council to approve roughly $1.5 million to fund the offices for both jobs. Mr. Gray told the Washington Examiner: "We don't need that" bill. "We don't have confirmation for the chief of staff. We don't have it for the city administrator." This is Mr. Gray's first direct opposition to a council proposal and perhaps a test of whether he still has pull within the 13-member body.


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