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Morning Read: McDonnell Addresses Constitutional Concerns Over Transportation Bill

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Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell proposed changes to the new transportation funding bill. News4 Northern Virginia Bureau reporter David Culver has the story.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell made eleventh hour amendments to the massive transportation bill to address questions of its constitutionality. 

Under the current plan passed through the legislature, the bill would have imposed a higher sales tax increase in localities in Fairfax County and Hampton Roads than in other parts of the state--a provision in the massive legislation that Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli had publicly deemed unconstitutional.

So late Monday, McDonnell amended the reform bill to potentially extend regional taxing authorities beyond Virginia's urban areas to other areas statewide in an effort to satisfy concerns about its constitutionality, according to the AP.

The governor also reduced the fee for alternative fuel vehicles from $100 to $64.

Cuccinelli's campaign for governor released the following statement:

“As officials within the McDonnell Administration keenly pointed out, Attorney General Cuccinelli played an important role in making sure the legislation was able to move forward without the threat of any legal challenges.  Moving forward, Ken Cuccinelli remains committed to working to fix Virginia’s transportation problems, which will create jobs and ease the congestion across the Commonwealth.”

Gov. McDonnell had until midnight Monday to sign, amend or veto 812 different bills that passed through the legislature this year.

As for the other bills, McDonnell amended legislation that would have placed a complete moratorium on drone use for two years in Virginia to allow the use of the technology for operations such as the search or rescue of missing people.

He also clarified that the ban on drones does not apply to universities or other institutions researching the development of the technology.

He amended legislation that would ban texting while driving by reducing the penalties for people who are pulled over for the offense.

The legislature will reconvene April 3 to consider his proposed amendments and vetoes.

IN OTHER NEWS:

* Virginia Senator Mark Warner announced he supports gay marriage Monday—the day before the Supreme Court hears arguments on two cases involving gay marriage this week. (News4)

* Bryan Weaver looks ready to run for the Ward 1 council seat. (Washington Post)

* Progressive Maryland released a report highlighting gaps in seven sectors that allow big businesses to take advantage of the state tax code, preventing Maryland from bringing in almost $60 million in annual tax revenue. (Maryland Reporter)

* Firefighters passed a "no confidence" vote on Chief Kenneth Ellerbe Monday by an overwhelming majority. (News4)

* A journalist group is protesting the complete sealing of an appeals court case involving the ongoing investigation in D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray’s 2010 campaign. (Washington Post)

* Montgomery County officials are afraid that private donations to schools can lead to inequality. (Washington Examiner)

* The Maryland Senate passed a measure largely along party lines that would allow illegal immigrants to keep, renew and apply for state drivers licenses. (Washington Examiner)

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