The Washington Times - January 23, 2012, 08:35AM

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, in the first two years of his term, has restored the voting rights of more than 2,500 ex-convicts — putting the former prosecutor and state attorney general on a pace to eclipse both of his Democratic predecessors. Mr. McDonnell promised on the campaign trail to enact the “fastest and fairest” rights-restoration process in Virginia history, and he so far has lived up to his pledge. His office makes decisions on applications within 60 days and fully briefs prisoners on the requirements to apply, reports David Sherfinski of The Washington Times.

A Smithsonian official says its guards do not routinely monitor the metal detectors installed at some of its most visited museums. The official said guards at the five museums with metal detectors — Air and Space, American History, American Indian, Natural History and Postal — monitor the machines only at random because officials want to ensure quick access for the people who make a total of 19 million visits to those museums annually. When the metal detectors aren’t operational, guards perform what the Smithsonian describes as a “thorough but speedy hand-check of all bags,” according to the Washington Examiner.


Virginia Delegate David Englin, Alexandria Democrat, says the state should explore offering marijuana in liquor stores to help boost government coffers, but Republicans are scoffing at the thought of it. He wants a panel to probe the potential revenue impact of allowing Virginia’s state-owned alcohol stores to sell pot, insisting it could help close budget gaps without cutting employees or services. “I’m just trying to steer the conversation into a more informed rational direction so we can have a rational discussion based on science and economics rather than a politically charged ideological conversation,” Mr. Englin said, according to the Washington Examiner.

Radio station WNEW made its local debut Sunday afternoon, bringing news, weather and traffic reports to Washington’s airwaves and a question to mind: Can a second station broadcasting news, weather and traffic reports make it in the region? The station, owned by media goliath CBS, is entering what its managers acknowledge is one of the most news-clotted markets in the country. They also recognize that they’re up against the all-news equivalent of an aircraft carrier — mighty WTOP, which dominates the local radio dial so thoroughly that it attracts more than three times the advertising revenue of any other station in Washington, according to The Washington Post.

More than nine months after a Virginia congressional redistricting map was introduced in the General Assembly, a plan finally has cleared the House and the Senate, but legislators insist the matter is still far from settled. The state Senate recently muscled through a House-drawn map with new lines for the state’s 11 congressional districts on a 20-19 vote. But two pending lawsuits and the possibility of further litigation could hold up its final adoption. The suits — one filed in federal court and one filed in state court — contend the assembly did not fulfill its constitutional obligations because the plan was not approved in 2011, according to The Times.

The family of a Catholic University student who was fatally shot while bicycling through the Petworth area in 2010 has dropped the District of Columbia and its juvenile justice agency from a lawsuit that had accused the city of failing to supervise the 16-year-old murder suspect committed to its custody, according to The Times.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is expected today to introduce most of his proposed legislation for this year’s General Assembly. Among the bills the Democratic governor is expected to submit are one to establish offshore wind energy and another to legalize same-sex marriage. However, the announcements will come as lawmakers continue to take deeper looks at the O’Malley budget, particularly leaders of the Democrat-controlled assembly, who are talking about making additional cuts and dialing back some of the budget’s proposed tax increases, reports David Hill of The Times.