O'Malley Asks for End to Death Penalty Governor Describes Punishment as 'Unjust'

Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) stepped into the debate over the death penalty and urged state lawmakers to repeal the punishment, saying it is "inherently unjust and does not serve as a deterrent." The governor's remarks came during a hearing on proposed legislation that would replace Maryland's death penalty with life in prison without parole. The issue is one of the most divisive facing the General Assembly.

Pr. George's to Spend More on Schools Focus on Student Achievement Increases

The Prince George's County school board unanimously approved a $1.68 billion budget, increasing spending on public schools by nearly $200 million in an effort to boost student achievement. The budget is the first for Superintendent John E. Deasy and the newly elected board. Its centerpiece are "Children Come First" initiatives, which aim to increase the number of students taking Advanced Placement courses and the SAT. Also, struggling schools would receive more money and personnel.

Bill Would Ban Plastic Genital Displays Legislation Targets Truckers, Other Motorists

Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr. (R-Washington) has introduced a bill that would ban the outsized plastic testicles that truckers dangle from the trailer hitches of their pickups. The bill would prohibit motorists from displaying anything resembling or depicting "anatomically correct" or "less than completely and opaquely covered" human or animal genitals, human buttocks or female breasts. The offense would carry a penalty.

Montgomery, Unions Find Agreement First-Year Raises Would Be at Least 4 Percent

The administration of Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) has reached an agreement with two employee unions on three-year contracts that provide annual raises of at least 4 percent. Nearly 7,000 general government workers would receive raises of 4 percent the first year and 4.5 percent in each of the following years; police officers would receive 4 percent raises in the first two years of the contract and a 4.25 percent raise in the third year. The contracts must be voted on by the County Council.

Archdiocese Advertises for Confessors Church Aims to Restore Participation Rate

The archdiocese of Washington is launching its biggest marketing blitz, using mass transit ads, brochures and radio spots in an effort to get people back to the confessional. According to church officials, the number of people taking part in the rite has dropped, and the church will counter with ads on buses and subway cars, a billboard, brochures and radio spots. Also known as the sacrament of reconciliation, confession involves telling a priest what was done wrong, apologizing, receiving an assigned penance and being forgiven.

Churches in the archdiocese will be open for confession from 7 to 8:30 p.m. every Wednesday through Lent. The archdiocese covers the District and Montgomery, Prince George's, Calvert, Charles and St. Mary's counties.

Across the Region D.C. Infant Deaths Up; Verizon Center Funds

· After a significant decline in infant mortality in the District, the number of babies who died in the city jumped 19 percent in 2005, according to a report released by the District's chief medical examiner. More than 70 percent of the deaths that year were attributed to premature births and such complications as low birth weight, according to the report.

· Three members of the D.C. Council introduced a bill to provide $50 million in public funding for improvements at Verizon Center. As part of the deal, the city would take over ownership of the building in 2047 from Washington Wizards owner Abe Pollin.