Beltway Confidential

10 highlights of the week

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Beltway Confidential,Commentary Writer

Drill, baby, drill

1| Gulf oil and gas lease sale pulls in $1.2b in bids

The details: A nearly 39 million-acre oil and gas lease sale yesterday for the central Gulf of Mexico drew $1.2 billion in bids by offshore energy producers. Fifty-two companies submitted 407 bids on 320 tracts, three to 230 miles off the coasts of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.

Stop raping people

2| Indian Parliament passes tougher rape law

The details: India's Parliament passed a sweeping new law Thursday to protect women against sexual violence. The new law, which still requires the president's signature before it becomes official, makes stalking, voyeurism and sexual harassment crimes.

What's inside?

3| Asteroid exploration mission moves forward

The details: Europe and the United States are moving forward with a plan to smash a spacecraft into a huge nearby asteroid in 2022 to study its interior, scientists announced this week. The Asteroid Impact & Deflection Assessment mission is slated to launch in 2019.

Not enough support

4| Assault weapons ban dropped from Senate bill

The details: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has decided not to include an assault weapons ban in the Senate gun control legislation that Democrats will propose next month. The decision was a critical blow to the supporters of gun control, who face having to accept a much-watered-down bill.

Hands off my pacemaker

5| Push to repeal medical device tax gains traction

The details: The Senate voted 79-20 to approve a budget amendment putting senators on record in favor of repealing a tax on medical devices that is an important part of President Obama's controversial health care law. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act levies a 2.3 percent tax on medical devices with the goal of raising nearly $30 billion over the next decade.

Cherry blossoms

6| Floral fest on schedule

The details: Washington's iconic cherry blossoms will be in full bloom during Easter week, according to the National Park Service. More than a million visitors are expected to visit the nation's capital for the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which runs through April 14.

Let there be light

7| Brighter Metro stations

The details: In response to long-standing rider complaints that Metro station platforms are too dark, the transit agency plans to install brighter, high-efficiency lighting at 10 stations. The focus will be on illuminating 17 of Metro's dimmest mezzanines by July 2014.

Pepco challenge

8| Streetlight rate hike questioned

The details: Maryland Del. Al Carr, D-Montgomery County, wants the state's Public Service Commission to scrutinize Pepco's request to raise its streetlight rates. Carr claims Pepco charges five times more for streetlight maintenance than local contractors.

Belt-tightening

9| Fairfax nixes pay raise

The details: Facing a $274 million budget shortfall in 2015, Fairfax County will be the only local county in the Washington area not to give its employees a raise next year. Fairfax County workers got a pay hike last year that cost taxpayers $50 million.

In-migration

10| Prince George's is No. 1

The details: Almost 25,000 local residents moved from D.C. and Arlington, Fairfax and Montgomery counties into Prince George's County each year between 2006 and 2010, according to census data. The county's relatively inexpensive housing was cited as a main reason for the in-migration.

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The Washington Examiner
The Washington Examiner