City State: Morning Roundup

D.C. resident readies for city hall recall effort; Joint effort in Virginia to challenge Romney, Paul certifications; Perry files ballot suit in Va.; Some Va. Assembly bills appear ghostwritten; Norton calls for full audit of Union Station; Va. merchants push for Amazon to pay state sales tax; More speed cameras planned for Prince George’s; Maryland lawmaker wants to ban Internet ‘sweepstakes’ gambling.

D.C. resident Frederick Butler says he is ready to hit the pavement once city voters get the green light next week to start the recall process against Mayor Vincent C. Gray and other city politicians finishing a tumultuous year. The city’s Board of Elections and Ethics on Tuesday will begin accepting recall notices for D.C. officials elected in 2010, and Mr. Butler says he has a network of volunteers ready to follow through on his efforts, reports Tom Howell Jr. of The Washington Times.

A former Democratic Party of Virginia chairman is teaming up with a conservative group to challenge the certifications of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul for the March 6 GOP presidential primary ballot after a long weekend of hand-wringing over the Republican Party of Virginia’s stringent qualification requirements, reports David Sherfinski of The Times.

Virginia legislators in recent years have proposed bills that would legalize the use of deadly force in defending one’s home, would call for companies that hire illegal immigrants to be shut down and would give businesses tax credits to fund private-school tuition for needy students. All of those bills — and more than 50 others — have been pushed by a conservative group that ghostwrites bills for legislators across the nation, according to a study to be released in the coming days. In many instances, the bills are identical to model legislation written by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a pro-business, free-market group whose members include legislators as well as private companies, which pay thousands of dollars to have a seat at the table, according to The Washington Post.

Starting New Year’s Day, grocers, retailers and other stores in Montgomery County will begin charging customers a nickel for every bag they need to carry off their wares. The tax was approved by the county council in May and could bring the county more than $1 million a year, reports David Hill of The Times.

Two members of Congress have asked the Transportation Department for “the first full federal audit” of the organization that manages Union Station, as major redevelopment at the historical site gets under way. In a Dec. 22 letter to Transportation Department Inspector General Calvin L. Scovell III, Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat who represents the District of Columbia in Congress, and Rep. Nick J. Rahall II, West Virginia Democrat, requested the audit because there is no master plan to oversee the major changes at the station, reports Meredith Somers of The Times.

Virginia merchants who have pushed for online retailer Amazon.com Inc. to pay state sales tax have gained some legislative allies in their fight. Democratic leaders in the House of Delegates said Tuesday that the governor’s economic development package for the Internet giant is a bad deal for the state and unfair to other merchants who pay the tax, according to the Virginian-Pilot.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday challenging Virginia’s ballot access rules that left him off the state’s GOP presidential primary ballot March 6. The lawsuit, brought against members of the State Board of Elections and Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins, challenges the constitutionality of Virginia’s ballot access law, which requires all petition gatherers to be either eligible or registered qualified voters in the state, according to The Times.

Drivers in the Washington area this year can expect more of the speed-enforcement cameras that have raised millions of dollars for jurisdictions around Maryland and in the District of Columbia. Prince George’s County plans to add an average of six cameras every month — at least one this week — aiming for 72 by July, said Maj. Robert Liberati, project manager of speed citation for the county police, the Washington Examiner reports.

Maryland Delegate Eric G. Luedtke, a Montgomery County Democrat, said he plans to introduce a bill in the General Assembly that would outlaw video game rooms that offer cash prizes for playing a “sweepstakes,” saying such operations effectively could put “slots on every corner,” according to the Baltimore Sun.

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