MARYLAND

Task Force Wants Smart Guns by 2003

A governor's task force on gun safety voted yesterday to recommend forbidding the sale of handguns in Maryland that lack smart-gun safety technology after Jan. 1, 2003.

An initial recommendation of a task force subcommittee had been to require the technology beginning in 2005. The technology uses fingerprint-reading devices or other mechanisms to prevent anyone but the owner from firing a handgun. Several gun manufacturers have told the task force that such technology could not be ready for market for at least four years.

Task force members said they felt that moving up the deadline would spur firearms makers to invest more heavily in developing the new guns. The task force also said that, beginning in 2002, integrated mechanical gunlocks would be required on handguns as a first step toward the more sophisticated technology. Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) formed the task force and plans to use its recommendations as the basis for legislation in the coming General Assembly session.

Duncan Seeks Intercounty Connector Files

Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) has filed a legal request with Gov. Parris N. Glendening for all communications his administration has had with federal officials concerning the intercounty connector highway.

Glendening (D) announced in September that he would not build the $1 billion road to connect Interstates 270 and 95 north of the Capital Beltway. The project has support from the business community as a way to alleviate east-west traffic congestion, but environmental groups say it would damage sensitive land and animal habitats.

The governor said his decision not to build the road, planned for five decades, was based partly on concerns that federal environmental officials would not approve it. But the project's environmental review has not been finished. Duncan, a supporter of the road, said he would try to determine whether federal officials had "prejudged the study."

Michelle Byrnie, a spokeswoman for the governor, said Glendening would provide Duncan with all documents that state law requires. She said the governor's legal office was reviewing the request.

THE DISTRICT

D.C. Budget Clears House, Stalls in Senate

The District's budget for the current fiscal year was approved by the House yesterday but stalled in the Senate last night.

The District's $4.7 billion budget was part of a $390 billion spending bill that the House approved 296 to 135.

It contains the largest tax cut in the city's history and money for improvements to the Anacostia and Southwest waterfronts, adding lanes to the 14th Street bridges, providing incentives to adopt foster children, abolishing open-air drug markets and starting a program that allows D.C. high school seniors to attend Maryland and Virginia colleges and universities at in-state tuition rates.

Officer Eyed for Portland, Ore., Chief's Job

A D.C. assistant police chief is a finalist for the chief's job in the Portland, Ore., Police Department.

Ronald Monroe, 44, is one of three finalists for the $106,000-a-year position. He is a 21-year member of the D.C. police, where he rose through the ranks and was named an assistant chief last year.

If he is selected for the job, Monroe will replace Charles Moose, who left Portland this year to head the Montgomery County police. Monroe will go to Portland Dec. 4 for a final interview.

Teachers Plan Protest Over Pay Problems The Washington Teachers' Union plans to demonstrate outside the offices of the D.C. financial control board Tuesday afternoon to protest continued problems with teachers getting paid, union President Barbara Bullock said yesterday.

Although the situation appears less dire than it was last month, when hundreds of teachers did not receive paychecks, Bullock said scores of teachers were not paid Tuesday, the most recent payday. Hundreds of other school employees are not being paid the right amount, she said.

VIRGINIA

GOP State Senators Reelect Leaders

Virginia's Republican state senators reelected their two key floor leaders yesterday at their annual caucus in Charlottesville.

Sen. Walter A. Stosch (Henrico) will stay on as majority leader. He also serves as floor leader and caucus chairman. Sen. Thomas K. Norment Jr. (James City) was reelected Senate Republican leader pro tempore, and will substitute for Stosch if he's absent.

The Republicans gained control of the General Assembly for the first time in the Nov. 2 legislative elections, and on Sunday, the Republican House of Delegates caucus nominated S. Vance Wilkins Jr. (Amherst) as speaker of the House.

THE REGION

Man's Grandmother Sues in Train Death

The grandmother of the District man who died last week at the Silver Spring Metro station after he was dragged between a train and the station platform sued Metro yesterday for $5 million.

In the suit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the family of Gennaro Keith Duncan, 35, blames the operator of the Red Line train for failing to see Duncan rush onto the platform and try to board the train.

Metro officials, who would not comment on the lawsuit, have maintained that the operator followed proper procedure and was pulling away from the station when Duncan ran up to the train, got his foot caught between the train and the platform and was pulled down to his death on the tracks. The lawsuit says that the Silver Spring station is one of two Metro stations equipped with large mirrors on the platforms and that the train operator should have seen Duncan on the platform.

Snapped Cable Sparks Trouble for Metro

A cable carrying electric power from the third rail to a Metro Orange Line train snapped yesterday morning, sending sparks, smoke and noise into the Ballston station.

Passengers were evacuated from the train as smoke filled the station. The Arlington Fire Department responded, but there was no fire, Metro officials said.

The train was headed to New Carrollton and pulled into Ballston just after 8 a.m. when the cable broke, Metro spokesman Ray Feldmann said. Trains were run on a single track from Ballston toward New Carrollton and full service was restored within 25 minutes, Feldmann said. "It wasn't a major disruption," he said.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"I've been blessed with a lot of good fortune. ... I figured, a million dollars is a million dollars, but what the hell."

--Vinod Gupta, explaining his $1 million gift to the White House-promoted events on the Mall celebrating the millennium. He is the only donor who has been identified by organizing officials.

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