Starting Thursday, It's Hands-Free

Rules Restrict Cell Phone Use While Driving

Remember: Using a handheld cell phone while driving in the District is illegal starting Thursday, except in emergencies.

Still Searching for Schools Chief

Leading Candidate Pulls Out of Race

The race to find a school superintendent is back on. Carl A. Cohn, who wouldn't commit to more than a year in earlier talks, said he was pulling out. He's the second leading candidate to withdraw, and that leaves the city -- and schools -- at square one.

A District Vote on Capitol Hill?

Bill on Congressional Representation Hits

Long-awaited and far from a sure thing, a bill to get the District's half-million residents a voting representative landed in Congress. This could be the best chance for residents of the nation's capital to have a representative in Congress, although critics say the Constitution never provided for one.

D.C. Structural Deficit Backed

Norton Urges U.S. Pay $800 Million Annually

District residents should take heart -- but not bet the farm -- on another development. City officials have long said the District needs billions of federal dollars to meet responsibilities such as offsetting rising health insurance, Metro subsidies and debt payments. It gets no state support. A General Accounting Office report supported that contention, and a U.S. Senate panel acknowledged the problem. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) has proposed an $800 million annual payment from the federal government. The measure has bipartisan support.

Slot Opponents File Suit

Hearing Is Set for Tomorrow

Religious and community groups, contending that backers of slot machines for the District got special treatment, sued to block a drive to get legalized slot machines on the November ballot. A hearing is set for tomorrow, when opponents make their case. Meanwhile, Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) asked proponents to abandon their drive at least this year. They plan to press on if the judge allows it.

School Funding Put on Hold

Congress Temporarily Freezes $10.6 Million

What Congress gives, Congress can put on hold. Of the $13 million that Congress and President Bush approved as a carrot for a voucher system for District children to go to private schools, Congress has placed a temporary hold on $10.6 million. Congress initially vowed to withhold it all because school officials failed to develop a spending plan, but leaders reached a compromise with the District.

Tractor Protest Not Taken Lightly

Judge Gives N.C Farmer 6 Years for Siege

Dwight W. Watson, the tobacco farmer who kept the area in suspense and in traffic for 47 hours last year after driving his tractor into a pond on the mall, was sentenced to a six-year prison term. Watson said he came from North Carolina to bring attention to the plight of farmers, but the judge didn't buy pleas for leniency. He said he was imposing the penalty to dissuade some other civil protester from trying up law enforcement and terrifying the city.

Across the Region

Meningitis Mystery; Airline Scofflaw Sentenced

* The death of a 16-year-old Chantilly High School student of viral meningitis remains a mystery. Infectious disease specialists working on the case of Courtney "Kay" Richard have not been able to identify the virus that caused the condition in her or two other people, who are recovering.

* Nathaniel T. Heatwole, a Maryland college student who smuggled box cutters onto passenger flights to highlight flaws in airport security, was given two years' probation after pleading guilty.

New fares: Starting today, Metrorail and bus fares will increase, and parking must be paid for with a SmarTrip card. Parking fees go up tomorrow.