- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 1, 2009

REGION

Winter storm watch in effect till Monday

More winter weather is on the way.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch Saturday for Central and Southern Maryland, the District, Northern Virginia, the upper Eastern Shore and Delaware.

A low pressure center moving up the Atlantic Coast could bring more than 5 inches of snow, forecasters said. The watch is in effect from Sunday afternoon through Monday morning.

MARYLAND

ANNAPOLIS

Court rules in favor of Internet anonymity

Maryland’s highest court has ruled in favor of Internet anonymity, saying Web sites involved in defamation suits do not have to reveal the identity of readers who post comments on their site.

The ruling Friday by the Maryland Court of Appeals reversed a lower court decision and said NewsZap.com, an online forum run by Independent Newspapers, does not have to disclose the identities of participants in a 2006 online exchange about the cleanliness of a Centreville Dunkin’ Donuts shop.

The company’s attorney argued that disclosing the names would have a “chilling effect” on the First Amendment right to speak anonymously. Eastern Shore businessman Zebulon Brodie argued that freedom of speech doesn’t extend to defamation.

FREDERICK

Incinerator under fire near battlefield

State Sen. Alex X. Mooney, Frederick Republican, has introduced legislation to stop a controversial waste-to-energy incinerator from being built near the Monocacy National Battlefield.

The bill introduced Friday would prohibit building or operating an incinerator within one mile of a national park. Mr. Mooney said the incinerator, which would have a smokestack as tall as 350 feet, would detract from the historic site.

Last year, the Tourism Council of Frederick County also said it opposed the proposal to build a waste-to-energy plant near the battlefield.

The project has been hotly debated in Frederick County. Proponents cite dwindling landfill space while opponents favor increased recycling and say the plant would pollute the air.

VIRGINIA

RICHMOND

Political apparel seen in voting booth

Voters would be allowed to wear T-shirts, buttons or other political paraphernalia to the polls under a bill that has passed out of the General Assembly.

Virginia had prohibited voters from wearing apparel with political slogans or candidates’ names at the polls on Election Day because of a state law that outlaws electioneering within 40 feet of the polling place.

Opponents said the rule violated voters’ free-speech rights, and advocacy groups filed a lawsuit.

The bill also clarifies residency requirements for voters, which became an issue last year with an unprecedented number of voter registration drives on college campuses.

The Senate passed it unanimously Saturday. The House voted 92-2 on Friday.

ROANOKE

Fralin retiring from House

Delegate Bill Fralin, Roanoke Republican, is retiring from the House of Delegates.

Mr. Fralin, 46, announced to his 99 House colleagues Saturday morning that he will not seek re-election this year.

A persistent voice for transportation funding for Western Virginia, Mr. Fralin was elected in 2003 and with the adjournment of this year’s session finishes three sessions.

His announcement marks at least the fourth House member to announce retirement this session.

Others include Frank Hargrove, Hanover Republican; Ken Melvin, Portsmouth Democrat; and Albert C. Eisenberg, Arlington Democrat.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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