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City State: Morning Roundup

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Mayor Vincent C. Gray's pick to head the increasingly vital D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics faces an uphill route to confirmation because of his residency status, an issue that derailed another mayoral pick mere weeks ago. Mr. Gray announced that Robert L. Mallett, city administrator from 1991 to 1995, as his pick for chairman of the body that oversees elections and ethical standards among D.C. officials. Yet Mr. Mallett may need the D.C. Council to grant him an exception to take the job because he has not lived in the District for three consecutive years leading up to his nomination, reports Tom Howell Jr. of The Washington Times.

The D.C. government has temporarily halted use of one of its most popular Twitter accounts to get a tighter handle on information disseminated about emergency operations.The District's Fire and Emergency Medical Services Twitter account has been on hiatus since Aug. 30. The account, which provided real-time information on emergency incidents in the city ranging from traffic accidents to fatal shootings, has been suspended as officials decide what information is safe to put online, writes Andrea Noble of The Times.

Maryland's chief fiscal leaders cut the state's economic outlook Wednesday, saying a stagnated national recovery would depress state tax collections and employment gains forecasted for next year and beyond. Projections that growth would boost tax revenue by 4.7 percent over the coming fiscal year were overly optimistic. The growth will probably be closer to 2.8 percent, according to the Board of Revenue Estimates, which consists of the state comptroller, the state treasurer and the governor's budget director, according to The Washington Post.

The Maryland Transportation Authority board will vote today on a plan to raise tolls statewide. Transportation officials have said the toll hikes are needed to pay for repairs and projects such as the Intercounty Connector and Interstate 95 express toll lanes near Baltimore. Protests to the original proposals prompted officials to reduce the hikes at the Chesapeake Bay and the Gov. Harry W. Nice bridges to $4 for two-axle vehicles starting Nov. 1 and to $6 in July 2013. Currently, motorists pay $2.50 on the Bay bridge and $3 on the Nice bridge, according to the Associated Press.

The governors of Maryland and Virginia are among those slated to take part in a panel discussion Monday on the state of education as part of NBC News's "Education Nation" initiative. Spokesmen for Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, Democrat, and Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, Republican, confirmed plans to travel to New York on Monday for the 2011 Education Nation Summit. NBC News anchor Brian Williams will be hosting the summit's panel of governors, for which McDonnell, O'Malley and at least 10 of their colleagues have been booked, according to the Washington Post.

As the Republican nominee in Northern Virginia's 87th House of Delegates district, David Ramadan's Islamic faith has become a lightning rod for those hoping to keep him from office. The Virginia Anti-Shariah Task Force — an organization whose stated purpose is keeping the religious laws of Islam out of Virginia — recently created a political action committee specifically to block the candidacy of Ramadan, a Lebanese-American businessman who emigrated to the U.S. in 1989 and first began working on Republican campaigns in the 1992 presidential race, the Washington Examiner reports.

The chairman of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority board of directors on Wednesday publicly criticized a measure introduced by a Northern Virginia congressman that would overhaul the board's structure and grant Virginia a majority of its seats, according to The Times.

With a tentative nod from the Federal Highway Administration this week, state leaders are looking at construction of two toll plazas on Interstate 95 — one between Fredericksburg and Richmond and the other between Richmond and the North Carolina line. Initially, the state requested a single toll facility at the North Carolina-Virginia line to help pay for upgrades to the I-95 corridor, including Interstate 295 near Richmond and Petersburg, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. spent $81 million to restore electricity to households and businesses that lost power in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene — costs that are expected to be passed on in part to all customers, the utility reported Wednesday. About 756,000 of BGE's 1.2 million customers had no electricity for an average of 37 hours after Irene sideswiped Maryland last month, disrupting lives and businesses and delaying the beginning of the school year in many districts, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Years of scraping away stones and sifting through loose dirt taught Dave Hacker some valuable lessons on fossil finding. So when the recent storms dumped nearly 10 inches of rain on the area, the Silver Spring resident grabbed his trowel and headed to the Dinosaur Park in Laurel to see what he could find. What he found was the largest dinosaur fossil to come out of the park in five years, writes Meredith Somers of The Times.

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