Local Leads: 2/18/11

News you need to know

By Charlie Bragale
|  Friday, Feb 18, 2011  |  Updated 11:45 AM EDT
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Local Leads: Cigarette Tax Increase Coming

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The following stories have been hand-selected by the Assignment Desk at News4:

DISTRESSED HOME LOANS DOWN IN MARYLAND
Baltimore Sun: " In the latest sign the mortgage crisis is easing in Maryland, the number of homeowners facing foreclosure or falling behind on their home loans hit the lowest level since mid-2009, statistics released Thursday show. The number of Marylanders behind on payments in the final three months of last year, including those in foreclosure proceedings, fell 10 percent from the year-earlier period to 140,000, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. That number accounted for 13.5 percent of the more than 1 million loans in the state, the data showed." 

FIRST ALL-ELECTRIC SMART CAR IN U.S.
Gazette: " Mindy Kimball of Silver Spring turned the ignition in her new car, backed out of her driveway and continued down the street.All was quiet except for a gentle whirring beneath her feet. When she halted at a stop sign, there was total silence."

CIGARETTE TAX INCREASE
Loudoun Times: "The Town of Leesburg will raise cigarette taxes May 1. Smokers purchasing cigarette packs within the town limits will face a 25-cent increase per pack, as a result of a tax hike from 50 cents to 75 cents. This will create $300,000 of additional revenue, according to Bob Berkey, Leesburg’s senior management analyst. "

COKE GETS HONEST
Gazette: "The Coca-Cola Co. has decided to exercise its option to acquire the rest of Honest Tea, but it will probably still be a few weeks before executives are sure the deal has closed, Seth Goldman, co-founder and CEO of the Bethesda beverage company, said Thursday."

MD. LAW RESTRICTING STRIPPERS ATTIRE UNCONSTITUTIONAL
wtop.com / ap: "A federal appeals court has ruled that a Maryland law restricting the attire and conduct of performers in strip clubs is unconstitutional. In an opinion issued Thursday by a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the judges upheld a lower court's permanent injunction issued in April 2009. The judges concluded the Maryland law was too broad and could have applied to dramatic stage performances and ballet."

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