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City State: Morning Roundup

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D.C. Council member Yvette Alexander, Ward 7 Democrat, will get a primary challenger. William "Bill" Bennett, II, a Washingtonian who has served the Ward 7 community for 18 years, including as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Deanwood, will announce his candidacy today at the city's new Department of Employment Services headquarters in Northeast, The Washington Times reports.

"Bennett has chosen to launch at D.O.E.S headquarters to demonstrate his proven commitment to 'Deliver MORE' Employment and Economic Development Partnerships for the residents of Ward 7. Bennett is also committed to deliver more comprehensive services for senior citizens; increased public safety support, more restaurants and quality social venues and more opportunities that help Ward 7 residents receive their Fair Share," according to his press release.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is scheduled to lend a high-profile boost to Virginia Republicans today at a fundraiser with Gov. Bob McDonnell. But state Democrats have seized on the appearance to link their GOP opponents to polarizing comments the 2012 presidential candidate has made about Social Security, writes David Sherfinski of The Washington Times.

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray and D.C.-rights advocates say they will resurrect their "D.C. Full Democracy Rally and March" in conjunction with the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial, now scheduled for Oct. 16. However, organizers provide no specific details Monday. The dedication and D.C.-centric events were postponed last month as a result of Hurricane Irene. Roughly 250,000 were expected to attend the weekend of events, writes Tom Howell Jr. of The Washington Times.

Maryland legislators are looking for ways today to raise hundreds of millions in new revenue for roads and other transportation projects, and increasing the state's gasoline tax appears a likely choice. While supporters say the state is due for the first increase since 1992 on its 23.5-cents-a-gallon excise tax, opponents contend that consumers are already too burdened by high gas prices and another increase could be economically and politically catastrophic. The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee will meet today to discuss possible tax increases, one week after a state-appointed commission recommended lawmakers raise $520 million in new taxes and fees to fund repairs of aging roads and transit systems, according to The Washington Times.

An insanity plea appears to be off the table for the woman charged with killing a co-worker in a Lululemon yoga store in Bethesda. Lawyers for Brittany Norwood failed to file a not-criminally-responsible plea by the Monday deadline set by Montgomery County Circuit Judge Robert A. Greenberg, according to The Washington Times. While the defense team could file the plea at a later date, a court official said Tuesday that Judge Greenberg would decide whether it would be allowed, according to The Times.

Montgomery County Executive Isiah "Ike" Leggett said Tuesday he feels confident a bill to establish a controversial youth curfew has enough support to pass the nine-member County Council. Mr. Leggett met with the council members for a round-table discussion on the legislation, which stemmed from a late-night incident over the Fourth of July weekend in which about 70 people got involved in a fight in downtown Silver Spring that resulted in a stabbing. A vote is now not expected until November, according to The Washington Times.

A D.C. man was arrested and charged Tuesday in connection with the shooting of a transgender woman, according to the Metropolitan Police Department. Darryl Willard, 20, of Northeast was charged with assault with intent to kill while armed early Monday morning, according to The Washington Times. The victim was shot in the neck, and her wounds were not considered to be life-threatening. She was able to identify her attacker. Mr. Willard turned himself in on Tuesday. Police said the shooting did not appear to be related to two earlier shootings this summer that targeted transgendered women.

Advocates are stepping up their Capitol Hill lobbying efforts to prevent a ban on city-funded abortions, as a Senate panel prepares to consider the spending bill that funds the D.C. budget for 2012. The House-passed version includes a ban on having the District of Columbia use its own taxpayer funds to pay for abortions for low-income women. That prohibition, supported by Republicans and anti-abortion groups, drew sharp complaints from House Democrats and the White House, which said it "undermines the principle of states' rights and of D.C. home rule." Activists now hope to keep that and other potential social policy "riders" off the Senate version of the bill, which will be marked up by an appropriations subcommittee Wednesday and then the full Appropriations Committee on Thursday, according to The Washington Post.

Gov. Bob McDonnell hinted Monday at further changes to the state's pension plan that could result in reduced benefits and higher costs for state employees. "There's no way to grow our way out of these deficits, even with tremendous stock market returns," the Republican governor said of the state's retirement system on WNIS-Radio Norfolk. He described the system as burdened by an "$18 billion unfunded liability." This year the General Assembly, reversing a practice of nearly two decades, required state employees to pay 5 percent toward their state-managed pensions and reimbursed them with 5 percent pay raises, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

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