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City State: Morning Roundup

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D.C. BUSINESS AND TRADE LEADERS sounded the alarm Monday about Mayor Vincent C. Gray's call to increase or create 13 taxes to close a $322 million budget gap in the upcoming fiscal year. Barbara Long, president of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, told the City Council that tax increases are a "drug" in the nation's capital and suggested that passing a fiscal 2012 budget with additional burdens on merchants, residents and the city's professional class will drive Washington, D.C., into a recession it has so far avoided, The Washington Times reports.

MARYLAND GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEY is expected to sign a bill Tuesday that would allow in-state college tuition for many illegal immigrants, as opponents fight to repeal the legislation and force a 2012 referendum. Mr. O'Malley, a Democrat, is scheduled to sign more than 200 bills Tuesday in Annapolis, including the Dream Act, which would allow in-state tuition rates for many college-aged children of illegal immigrants who pay taxes, according to The Washington Times.

THE MASSIVE HEALTH CARE OVERHAUL passed last year will face a round of hearings in federal appeals courts beginning Tuesday when the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals hears competing cases about the law's constitutionality, The Washington Times reports. Two lower-court judges in Virginia last year ruled in opposite ways: One judge upheld the law, turning back a challenge by Liberty University, while another judge struck down key parts of the law, upholding state Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II's lawsuit.

A METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT officer indicted in 2002 in an off-duty gun-related incident in Montgomery County is facing fresh charges in another incident in Prince George's County, in which he reportedly pointed a gun at a female friend, according to court records. Christopher P. Whitehouse, a former MPD sergeant who was demoted as a result of the previous criminal charges, is under a peace order in Prince George's County to stay away from the woman through October and is barred from possessing a gun, the records state, according to The Washington Times.

TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY Ray LaHood has joined the brouhaha over Dulles Metrorail funding, offering to meet with local officials contesting a $3.8 billion price tag. LaHood is the most recent in a line of influential voices to seek a solution to ballooning cost estimates for the rail line to Dulles International Airport and beyond, according to sources familiar with the matter, The Washington Examiner reports. The project's price tag has soared from the original estimate of $2.5 billion. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, called for cost controls last week, including building the Dulles Metro station above ground instead of underground.

TWO EASTON H.S. LACROSSE PLAYERS have been suspended under zero-tolerance policies. They were carrying a pen knife and lighter, which they said they used to fix lacrosse sticks. Varsity athlete Graham Dennis never thought of the pen knife he carried in his bag to repair his lacrosse stick's strings as a dangerous weapon until school officials found the item in a search of bags on a school bus headed for a game, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Teammate Casey Edsall, who had a lighter that he also used to repair equipment, were sent to the principal's office and the police were called. Dennis was handcuffed and charged as a juvenile with possession of a deadly weapon. The school system's handling of the punishment has enraged the 17-year-old boys' parents and drawn criticism from some area residents who say the case is an example of Talbot County's zero-tolerance policies gone amok.

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