- - Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Congressional gridlock eases on road programs

The congressional gridlock that has tied up federal highway programs for years is loosening — a little.

Rep. John L. Mica of Florida, the Republican chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, outlined to reporters Wednesday a $230 billion, six-year highway, transit and rail construction bill he plans to introduce this month.

In the Senate, a key committee chairman, Democrat Barbara Boxer of California, said she is pursuing a two-year, $109 billion bill.

Transportation construction programs have limped along under eight temporary funding extensions since 2009, when the last long-term funding bill expired. Two commissions studying transportation have warned that if the U.S. doesn’t sharply increase spending to repair and improve its infrastructure, the nation faces a future of nightmarish congestion.

Current highway program authority expires Sept. 30.


Government shutdown costing taxpayers millions

ST. PAUL — A six-day-old government shutdown in Minnesota is costing taxpayers millions — a toll that will only rise the longer it lasts.

The nation’s only government shutdown already means that people aren’t spending their normal $1.25 million a week on lottery tickets. State auditors aren’t pursuing tax cheats. And 22,000 laid-off state workers are expected to start collecting unemployment checks next week.

State officials won’t be able to calculate the full cost until the shutdown ends.

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative Republicans are still divided over raising taxes and cutting spending as they seek to erase a $5 billion deficit.

The government closure also threatens to slow an already sluggish economic recovery as those who lose state-dependent jobs tighten their spending.


Gimenez installed as new Miami-Dade mayor

MIAMI — Carlos Gimenez was sworn in as Miami-Dade’s new mayor in a ceremony Wednesday afternoon.

Mr. Gimenez, a former county commissioner, bested former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina in a runoff election last week. They were the top two vote-getters in a crowded field of 11 candidates vying to replace Mayor Carlos Alvarez, who was ousted in a March recall. Former 2 Live Crew rapper Luther Campbell was among the other candidates in the May 24 special election. He finished fourth, behind former state Rep. Marcelo Llorente.

With more than 2.5 million people, Miami-Dade County is the most populous area ever to recall a local official.

After serving out the current mayoral term, Mr. Gimenez will have to run for re-election in 2012 to keep the job.


Veteran Duckworth says she will run for Congress

CHICAGO — Iraq war veteran and former Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs Tammy Duckworth says she is running for Congress.

The Democrat announced Wednesday that she will file paperwork to run in the newly drawn 8th Congressional District in Chicago’s western suburbs. The district has no incumbent.

Spokesman Pete Giangreco said the 43-year-old Army veteran would file the paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday or Thursday.

Miss Duckworth lost both her legs in a rocket-propelled grenade attack while serving in Iraq. She ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2006 in another district. Parts of that old district are included in the new 8th District and are areas Mr. Giangreco says she won last time.

Another Democrat, Raja Krishnamoorthi, also has formed an exploratory committee.


State court upholds House election ruling

CARSON CITY — The Nevada Supreme Court says state Republican and Democratic Party leaders can choose their candidate to run for the state’s open U.S. House seat.

In a decision issued late Tuesday, justices upheld a lower court ruling and sided with the state Republican Party rather than with Democrats and Secretary of State Ross Miller, who said the Sept. 13 special election should be an open contest.

The ruling is seen as a boon to Mark Amodei, a former state senator who was among 15 Republican contenders still vying for the seat. Republicans feared an unbridled ballot would splinter the Republican vote and allow Democrats to claim the seat for the first time since its creation in 1982.

Mr. Amodei has been endorsed by the state GOP central committee. Democrats have embraced state Treasurer Kate Marshall.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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