Assembly Rejects Death Penalty Changes

Bills Aimed to Address Race, Geography Gaps

Efforts to change Maryland's death penalty laws died in the General Assembly. The Senate rejected one measure aimed at reducing capital convictions, and the House of Delegates spiked another that would have required prosecutors to seek capital punishment in more cases.

Each bill aimed to address flaws in the state's administration of the death penalty, particularly the widespread racial and geographic disparities.

Bethesda-Silver Spring Bus Link Studied

Md. Looks at Alternative to Train Line Near Trail

Maryland transportation officials are evaluating a proposed route for a Bethesda-Silver Spring transit line that would run rapid bus service along Jones Bridge Road rather than a train line along the popular Capital Crescent Trail.

It is one of the options being considered as the state determines a route for what it calls the BiCounty Transitway, otherwise know as the Purple Line. Maryland officials have for years planned a transit link to join the two branches of Metro's U-shaped Red Line.

Duncan Proposes Revenue Increases

Taxes, User Fees, 'Rainy Day' Fund Affected

Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) proposed a spending plan for next fiscal year that would result in a 3-cent increase in the property tax rate and a quarter-percent increase to Montgomery's add-on to the Maryland income tax.

The plan also calls for new fees for such basic services as ambulance, trash collection and Ride On buses. Duncan also proposed dipping into the county's "rainy day" reserve fund for $15 million.

Detente Over Spouse-Abuse Case

Officials Hope to Improve Pr. George's Procedures

Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson and State's Attorney Glenn Ivey appeared to make peace over the handling of a domestic violence case that ended in a murder-suicide.

Johnson and Ivey, both Democrats, said they are working to find ways to improve the handling of spousal abuse cases.

Johnson, the county's former state's attorney, had criticized Ivey over the case of Tyrone Dyson, who made a deal March 10 to avoid prosecution and a day later killed his wife and himself.

Student Travel Curtailed by War

Administrators Respond to Code Orange Alert

Prince George's County school officials canceled all student field trips to the District, Baltimore, Annapolis, Philadelphia and New York in response to the Code Orange alert issued with the start of the war against Iraq.

Montgomery County has postponed all overnight school trips more than 75 miles away.

Across the Region

Museum Expansion; Doubts About Zoo Review

* An Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge ruled that the state can go ahead with the expansion of the Banneker-Douglass Museum in downtown Annapolis. The $5.5 million expansion was halted after Thomas McCarthy Jr., a lawyer who lives across the street from the museum, filed a lawsuit challenging the project. McCarthy argued that the expansion did not meet the city's rigorous permitting process. McCarthy said he will appeal the ruling.

* The National Academy of Sciences, the nonprofit organization that was recruited by a congressional committee to perform an independent review of animal deaths at the National Zoo, is part of a joint business venture with the Smithsonian Institution, which runs the zoo. Officials of the National Humane Society of the United States expressed concern that a study of the animal deaths would accomplish little unless it were done by independent reviewers.

Mall siege: Police keep their rifles on Dwight W. Watson, the farmer who drove a tractor into a pond and claimed to have explosives. The 47-hour standoff ended peacefully. No explosives were found.