- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Virginia House approves bill defining life as beginning at conception; Expert in Huguely trial: Love could have been alive for hours after attack; Group questions Casa de Maryland’s nonprofit status; Lobbyists working hard to defeat Prince George’s proposed bag tax; Maryland gay-marriage bill advances to House floor; Barry, Catania have shouting match; Metro to admit liability in Fort Totten crash.

The Virginia House approved legislation Tuesday that would define life as beginning at conception, setting up a potential clash in the state Senate and another high-stakes battle over a measure that has been beaten back elsewhere in the country in recent years, reports David Sherfinski of The Washington Times.

A medical expert in the murder case against former University of Virginia lacrosse player George W. Huguely V testified Tuesday that victim Yeardley Love likely was alive for as long as two hours after Mr. Huguely attacked her in May 2010 in her apartment bedroom. The defense is expected to start its case today, The Times’ Meredith Somers reports from Charlottesville, Va.

The Immigration Reform Law Institute, which pushes for immigration controls, has asked Maryland to investigate the tax-exempt status of CASA de Maryland, a high-profile immigrant rights group. The institute says CASA repeatedly has engaged in political advocacy, breaking the law governing nonprofits. Among the institute’s accusations, in a lengthy complaint sent to several Maryland agencies over the past week, are that CASA regularly lobbies the state on legislation, endorses political candidates and supports Democrats through get-out-the-vote volunteer efforts, all while taking tax-deductible donations as a nonprofit, The Times reports.


Plastic-bag manufacturers are fighting efforts by Prince George’s County lawmakers to pass a proposed 5-cent bag tax in the county, which supporters say would reduce littering and pollution. While some taxpayers have voiced opposition to the tax, perhaps the most resistance has come from the American Progressive Bag Alliance and American Chemistry Council, which have hired Annapolis lobbying firms this session to sway legislators and defend against what they consider unfair scapegoating of the industry, reports David Hill of The Times.

Two Maryland House panels on Tuesday passed Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley’s same-sex marriage bill, sending it to the chamber floor with help from the state’s first Republican delegate to speak in favor of the legislation. A Senate panel has yet to vote on the bill, reports The Times’ David Hill.

D.C. Council membersMarion Barry and David Catania engaged in a profanity-laced shouting match that nearly turned physical at the annual council retreat Tuesday, according to eyewitness accounts and interviews with both men. Following the argument about the United Medical Center in Southeast Washington, Mr. Barry, Ward 8 Democrat, accused Mr. Catania, at-large independent, of having a long-standing disrespect for “black men.” Mr. Catania said Mr. Barry’s legacy will be one of failure because he has turned his back on his constituents and allowed his life to be overtaken by personal drama, according to The Washington Post.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and three equipment manufacturers have taken the first step to admitting liability in the Fort Totten Metro train wreck, more than two years after the crash killed nine people and injured dozens more. The transit agency and the companies already have settled seven of the nine death cases, plus several injury cases, according to the victims’ lead attorney, Patrick Regan. And Metro, Alstom Signaling, Ansaldo STS USA and ARINC filed documents in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Monday telling the court that they will “stipulate to liability” at the trials in the four remaining cases to avoid “significant risks and costs” that would come with hashing out the issues in court. That’s the first public admission of fault in the crash, according to the Washington Examiner.