- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Maryland commission will likely recommend that the General Assembly gradually increase the state’s gas tax to help pay for transportation projects and road maintenance, its chairman said Tuesday. Members of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Maryland Transportation Funding tentatively agreed on a plan that would generate more than $800 million in annual transportation revenue by raising the state’s 23.5-cents-a-gallon gas tax and hiking several vehicle and transit fees, The Washington Times reports.

A newly formed D.C. agency that consolidates the city’s capital projects and maintenance duties under one roof should benefit the District financially, but its team must act quickly to justify the faith of city legislators who stepped “out on a limb” in support of the endeavor, council members said Tuesday, The Times reports.

Virginia needs to massively improve how it monitors payments in its Medicaid program, according to a report released Tuesday by the General Assembly’s investigative arm. The recommendation comes as the state girds for a possible 425,000 additional enrollees as a result of President Obama’s health care overhaul, according to David Sherfinski of The Times.

Rep. Donna F. Edwards has become the first Democrat in Maryland’s congressional delegation to publicly criticize a proposed redistricting map, saying the process is “deeply flawed” and party leaders at the highest level are slighting minority voters by splitting their districts.

“We have a Democratic governor and a Democratic General Assembly,” Ms. Edwards, who is seeking a second full term in 2012, said Tuesday. “Democrats are not in the business of diluting the minority vote.”

Ms. Edwards is concerned about how a panel appointed by Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, redrew the 5th District and her 4th District, which covers central Prince George’s County and eastern Montgomery County, according to The Times.

Customs and Border Patrol agents at Dulles Washington International Airport inspecting commercial items from a courier on a flight from El Salvador found 245 grams of cocaine after passing the goods through an X-ray, officials said. The X-ray Thursday night detected “an anomaly” inside the wooden bedpost knobs of an expensive bed frame, and officers dug into the knobs and discovered the drugs. The street value is estimated at $17,000. The courier was not charged with a crime and was permitted to return to El Salvador, officials said, according to the Washington Post.

Most Marylanders are in favor of paying $2 more a month for greener electricity produced through offshore wind, according to a new poll conducted by Gonzales Research. The poll showed 62 percent were willing to pay the surcharge if more of their electricity came from the offshore turbines being considered by state lawmakers. More than half of them — a total of 39 percent — feel strongly about paying more for green power. About a third of Marylanders oppose paying more, with the vast majority of them solidly against paying more. Four percent of Marylanders had no opinion on the issue, according to the Maryland Reporter.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell — still fuming from a denial of federal aid for earthquake-battered Louisa County — has invited President Obama to join him in Louisa next week during Mr. Obama’s swing-state bus tour. Mr. McDonnell, a Republican, wrote in a letter Tuesday to Mr. Obama that “it would benefit your administration to understand the devastation brought on by this historic earthquake, and to see how the community’s recovery will be hindered as a result of FEMA’s denial of important emergency relief funds.” The Aug. 23 magnitude-5.8 earthquake that shook much of the East Coast was centered near Mineral, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Metro released its latest proposal for a new map of its rail network Tuesday, including proposed name changes for several stations, new icons such as H for hospitals, plus lists of nearby cross streets listed below the name of each stop. As part of the plan, the King Street station would become King Street, with “Old Town” written in smaller letters below as a secondary name. Alexandria has agreed to pay to change all necessary signs, according to Metro. Navy Yard would get “Ball Park” added as a secondary name if D.C. finds money to pay Metro to make the change, reports the Washington Examiner.