National briefs: Gay marriage ban disallowed

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Arkansas on Friday became the 22nd U.S. state where same-sex marriage was deemed lawful when a court there threw out statutes barring such unions.

State court Judge Christopher Charles Piazza in Little Rock, Ark., invalidated the state's ban, citing a 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision that ruled a ban on interracial marriage was similarly unlawful to support his reasoning.

"It is time to let that beacon of freedom shine brighter on all our brothers and sisters," the judge wrote. "We will be stronger for it."

The state will appeal the ruling, the state attorney general's office said in a statement.

The Arkansas ruling follows federal court decisions that since December have invalidated same-sex marriage bans in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia and Michigan. The decisions legalizing same-sex marriage in those states are on hold while they're appealed.

R&D tax break OK'd in House

WASHINGTON -- The House voted 274-131 Friday to make permanent a popular tax break for corporate research and development that has survived for three decades as a "temporary" measure. This has drawn loud complaints from many Democrats, who note that the Republican proposal would add about $155 billion to the budget deficit over the next decade.

But Democrats don't want to do away with the credit. The Democratic Senate will vote as soon as next week on another temporary extension. The Senate plan would revive the research credit through 2015, along with a slew of other tax provisions that expired in December -- at a cost to the Treasury of about $85 billion over the next decade.

But the deficit is beside the point: Congress has rarely paid for the research credit and other "tax extenders." The granddaddy of all tax extenders -- the nearly $4 trillion "fiscal cliff" deal that made permanent most of the Bush tax cuts, among other policies -- passed with nary a peep about paying for it.

Postal Service loses $1.9B

WASHINGTON -- The financially troubled Postal Service on Friday posted a net loss of $1.9 billion in the second quarter, the same amount the agency lost over the same period in 2013, postal officials said.

But the agency did report operating revenue of $16.7 billion, a $379 million increase over the same period last year. It was the third straight quarter the agency had posted an increase in revenue.

Deeper U.S. ports backed

WASHINGTON -- House and Senate negotiators Thursday evening reached agreement on a bill that would authorize deepening several U.S. ports ahead of the expansion of the Panama Canal and the bigger ships that will use it.

The Water Resources Reform and Development Act, H.R. 3080 -- the first such measure in seven years -- will include language that would let ports pay the costs of deepening harbors up front, then seek reimbursement from the government once the project is authorized by lawmakers.

Also in the nation ...

Last call came Friday for the bar cars on commuter trains between Manhattan and Connecticut, a final run for rolling taverns. ... The Prince George's County Planning Board on Thursday gave approval to a plan by the Nevada-based gaming giant MGM Resorts International for the MGM National Harbor luxury casino resort on the banks of the Potomac River at National Harbor, Md.

-- Compiled from news services


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