City State: Morning Roundup

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THE D.C. COUNCIL ON TUESDAY APPROVED a $10.8 billion budget plan for the coming fiscal year, after a debate that focused on the best way to spend any additional money projected to enter the city’s coffers. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown’s plan restored funding to services for the homeless and other programs, even as it attempted to plug a $322 million budget gap, according to The Washington Times. The plan eliminated an income tax on wealthier households in favor of revoking the tax-exempt status of out-of-state bonds held by D.C. residents.

THE SOON-TO-BE-UNVEILED MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. MEMORIAL IS COMPLETE, Chinese sculptor Lei Yi Xin says. (Click here to see.) The 28-foot-tall memorial will be on the National Mall near the Tidal Basin and is expected to be dedicated Aug. 28, according to the blog dcist.com. The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Foundation Project, which planned and managed the construction of the memorial, is trying to raise $8 million by that date to help defray the $120 million cost of construction.

VIRGINIA OFFICIALS ARE PLANNING FOR THE CREATION OF A STATE HEALTH INSURANCE EXCHANGE to comply with the federal health care act, even as Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, a Republican, supports a state legal challenge that could overturn the law, the Virginian-Pilot reports. A meeting Tuesday of the Joint Commission on Health Care included an update on the process of setting up an exchange. Health insurance exchanges are marketplaces through which individuals without insurance and small businesses without group insurance plans can buy coverage.

VIRGINIA GOV. ROBERT F. MCDONNELL SIGNED LEGISLATION TUESDAY TO IMPROVE SCHOOL SAFETY, according to the Associated Press. The new laws make it illegal for sex offenders to be on school buses and allows video cameras to be installed on them, and increases penalties for motorists who drive past stopped school buses. One law classifies synthetic drugs such as “bath salts” as controlled substances. Legislation also requires the Department of Health to set up a random survey of students in public middle and high schools to assess risk factors and improve substance abuse prevention programs.

CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY HAS DECIDED TO END COED DORMS in an effort to curtail the binge drinking and casual hookups by students. The decision was made by John H. Garvey, who became president of Catholic last year, The Washington Post reports. He called the move a “slightly old-fashioned” solution. “We just thought it was a more wholesome environment,” he added. “A little separation is a healthy thing.” Eleven of the university’s 17 residence halls are coed, so a campuswide transition will take a few years. This fall, the university will place most freshmen in all-women or all-men halls.

METRO OFFICIALS ARE EYEING A BROWN LINE to join the system’s existing color-coded rail system. The transit agency is planning for the future, looking at creating a train line that dips from Friendship Heights into the District of Columbia and back up to Silver Spring and past White Oak. It’s also studying a line along the Capital Beltway loop, diverting the Blue Line from its current route across downtown to create a midcity rail line, or running an offshoot from the Green Line to National Harbor, according to the Washington Examiner. None of the plans is funded or even firm.

WASHINGTON’S METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT IS REDRAWING ITS PRECINCTS, citing longer police-response times in busy districts and a boom of economic growth leading to new crime patterns, The Washington Times reports. The changes are expected to more evenly distribute the number of calls for service and crimes reported among the city’s seven police districts, Chief Cathy L. Lanier said. 

VIRGINIA SENATE CANDIDATE GEORGE ALLEN released a list of ideas Tuesday that he says will create jobs, reduce dependence on foreign oil and pare back the federal government. Mr. Allen, a Republican, named the list the “Blueprint for America’s Comeback” and released it four months after he announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat he lost in 2006, according to The Washington Times.

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