Violent crime surges in D.C.; Virginia assembly’s money committees release spending plans; Huguely trial goes to jury; Maryland Senate to debate work-zone speed cameras operating in off hours; Virginia rarely enforces speed from the air; After key vote, gay-marriage debate continues in Maryland churches: Poll: Most Virginians oppose changes in abortion, gun laws.
Violent crime so far this year in the District of Columbia has spiked sharply — a 40 percent increase that includes twice as many robberies at gunpoint than at this time last year. Across the city, all police districts are reporting increases in violent crime, and all but one have had double-digit percentage increases, according to internal Metropolitan Police Department documents. The documents contained preliminary crime data for the city as of Thursday, reports Andre Noble of The Washington Times.
The Virginia House and Senate money committees each signed off on their respective spending plans Sunday. Both increase funding from Gov. Bob McDonnell’s proposed budget for public schools and programs for the disabled, give relief to localities grappling with their bottom line, and boost salaries for state employees who have gone four years without raises. However, a leading Democrat said the Senate’s budget in its current form probably would not pass the full chamber, potentially throwing the process of approving Virginia’s two-year, $85 billion spending proposal into a protracted partisan standoff, reports David Sherfinski of senate/” href=”http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/feb/19/virginia-budget-likely-to-stall-in-senate/” target=”_blank”>The Times.
The high-profile murder trial of former University of Virginia lacrosse player George W. Huguely V will go to the jury Wednesday, following a weekend of dramatic closing arguments. The jury will have several options in choosing a verdict in the death of Yeardley Love, Mr. Huguely’s fellow classmate and former girlfriend. To find Mr. Huguely guilty of the charge of first-degree murder, jurors will have to decide whether he intended to kill Love and whether he did it maliciously and with premeditation. If found guilty of first-degree murder, Mr. Huguely, 24, faces life in prison, reports Meredith Somers of The Times.
Maryland drivers have received more than 1 million speeding tickets from work-zone speed cameras over the past three years, according to data from the Maryland State Highway Administration. And many of those tickets were issued even though no one was working in those zones at the time. The cameras collected $18.9 million in 2011. Critics say that means the cameras are about revenue, not safety. The state Senate will debate a bill this week that would allow speed cameras to track drivers only when workers are present in the work zone, according to the Washington Examiner.
Large signs lining Virginia’s highways ominously warn drivers that someone up in the sky could be watching them speed. But that’s almost never the case. The aircraft used by Virginia State Police to catch speeders on interstates have been deployed only five times since 2008 and just once in all of 2011. None of those speed checks in the last three years was in Northern Virginia, the Examiner also reports.
On Sunday, two days after Maryland’s House of Delegates approved a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage, the debate continued inside the congregations of Maryland’s churches. In the Greater Harvest Baptist Church, for example, the Rev. Errol Gilliard Sr. issued a call to arms. “They took your tax dollars to push an immoral bill,” Mr. Gilliard preached into his microphone, according to the Baltimore Sun.
Virginia voters, by wide margins, want to retain the state’s landmark one-handgun-a-month law and oppose mandating that a woman receive an ultrasound before having an abortion, according to a new Christopher Newport University/Richmond Times-Dispatch survey, which shows the majority is at odds with legislation poised to pass in the General Assembly.