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Morning Read: Council Issues Ban On Strip Clubs In Ward 5

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Donning shirts that said “NO MORE STRIP CLUBS,” about 100 Ward 5 senior residents stood by as the D.C. Council voted Tuesday to approve a moratorium on strip clubs in the ward.

    With four strip clubs already in the northeast Ward, the district is trying to prevent a proliferation of nude clubs in the area, which has also been targeted by potential marijuana growers looking for a home.

    The residents are concerned that the area along Queens Chapel Road—which already has four strip clubs, five approved marijuana dispensaries and one distributor—will become the red light district of D.C, according to The Washington Examiner .

    Councilmember Vincent Orange, the sponsor of the legislation, said in a press release that the emergency legislation is necessary to address the concerns of residents who would be adversely impacted by the over-concentration of adult entertainment establishments in the area.

    “Without the introduction of this emergency legislation, Ward 5 would stand as the dumping grounds for the City, with an overconcentration of medical marijuana cultivation centers and adult entertainment establishments,” he said.

    * Rev. Al Sharpton joined the fight for the legalization of same-sex marriage in Maryland, appearing in a Web Video campaign that advocates for legalization of gay marriage in the state.

    "As a Baptist minister I don’t have the right to impose by beliefs on anyone else,” he said. “If committed gay and lesbian couples want to marry, that’s their business. None of us should stand in their way.”

    * DC Mayor Vincent Gray delivered his State of the District address Tuesday, focusing on the progress he says the District has made since he took office 13 months ago.

    He particularly focused on economic progress and touted the unexpected $240 million budget surplus this past fiscal year.

    “The financial health of our city continues to improve, and just recently we announced that we ended 2011 with one of the largest budget surpluses in our history -- $240 million. The fact is we have made great strides over the last year engineering a major financial turnaround and stabilizing our fiscal house. For the first time in years, the District is not spending from our critical reserve fund, which had been depleted by $700 million over the prior four years. Indeed, we are replenishing that fund – often called our rainy day fund – which now stands at $1.1 billion.”

    But, he said, the District still needs to focus on getting its high number of unemployed residents back to work. He said the District population is the largest it’s ever been at 618,000 people and the new D.C. economy cannot rely on federal government employment.

    “Instead, our comprehensive plan for creating a new economy must result in a diversified, more resilient, and more balanced approach to economic growth. And we cannot go it alone. We must engage important partners like our universities, nonprofits, organized labor and the business community in order to more strategically reinforce our efforts.”

    He mentioned education reform and construction in schools across the district and said schools are finally improving.

    “The fact is, more and more parents are finding good reason to have confidence in District schools. And for the first time in decades enrollment in D.C. public schools is stabilizing. Schools are improving and enrollment is finally stabilizing."

    Read the full speech here.

    * A new Quinnipiac University poll shows Obama with a slight edge over Romney in Virginia, with a 47 percent to 43 percent lead among all voters in the state.

    The figures show Obama improving since the last poll was taken in December. Independent voters now favor the president 45 percent to 41 percent.

    * Two anti-smoking bills passed through a Virginia Senate committee Tuesday. The bills would prohibit smoking on public grounds and in government owned and leased buildings.

    The bill would also give localities the option of passing a similar ordinance.

    * The Senate Finance Committee voted unanimously to advance a bill that would close a loop-hole that has allowed Amazon to avoid collecting the 5 percent state sales tax on purchases by Virginia costumers, The Richmond Times Dispatch reports.

    If the legislation passes, the state could receive as much as $24 million in additional state and local sales tax revenue.