• LAWMAKER SHELVES BILL TO NAME BIBLE AS STATE BOOK: BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A Shreveport lawmaker is scrapping his proposal to name the Bible as Louisiana’s official state book.
Republican Rep. Thomas Carmody told the state House on Monday that he wouldn’t pursue the measure. He said lawmakers had told him they were worried the bill was becoming a distraction from more important debates, like the state budget.
Carmody had said he sponsored the proposal after a constituent made the request. He insisted the bill wasn’t designed to be a state-endorsement of Christianity or a specific religion.
But lawmakers said it raises questions about whether Louisiana would be violating the separation of church and state. Opponents said it could land the Legislature in a costly lawsuit.
• CAR HITS PACKED FLORIDA CHURCH, INJURING 21: FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — A car slammed into a packed Florida church just as its annual Easter concert was about to begin, injuring 21 people as it barreled through the brick outer wall and several rows of pews, Fort Myers police said.
The Lexus sedan struck the Second Haitian Baptist Church at around 8 p.m. Sunday, when there were about 200 people inside, Lt. Victor Medico said.
When officers arrived at the scene, church members used car jacks to lift the vehicle off of people who were trapped underneath, according to the News-Press of Fort Myers .
Investigators were looking into the crash even though they believe it was “an unfortunate traffic accident.”
“Everybody was sitting and the service started and then ‘BING’ the car came in,” said Jean Corjeles, who was in the church when the crash happened.
“So many people are injured,” he said.
Medico said the driver, a young woman, told investigators she was looking for a parking spot when the car malfunctioned and it drove “straight into the building,” adding that she said the car’s brakes malfunctioned.
• WASHINGTON MUDSLIDE DEATH TOLL RISES BY 2 TO 41: EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — The death toll from the mudslide that hit the Washington town of Oso has risen to 41.
The Snohomish County medical examiner’s office counted two more victims Monday, but said they have not yet been officially identified.
Four names remain on the list of people missing from the March 22 landslide that tore through about three-dozen homes in the community about 55 miles northeast of Seattle.
The search for bodies continues as President Barack Obama prepares to visit the site Tuesday and meet with victim’s families and first responders. Obama is making the brief stop in Washington state as he heads to Asia for an eight-day trip to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines.
• PROSECUTORS: PREP SCHOOL GRADUATES RAN DRUG RING: ARDMORE, Pa. (AP) — Two prep school graduates sought to use their sports connections and business acumen to establish a monopoly on drug sales to high school students in the affluent Main Line suburbs of Philadelphia, authorities said Monday.
Neil Scott, 25, and Timothy Brooks, 18, recruited and supplied dealers with marijuana, cocaine, Ecstasy and hash oil to sell to teens at five high schools in the tony bedroom communities, authorities said.
A four-month investigation revealed the pair also hired students at Haverford, Gettysburg and Lafayette colleges to peddle drugs at those Pennsylvania schools, authorities said.
Scott and Brooks are graduates of The Haverford School, a $35,000-a-year private institution where both played lacrosse. They tapped their sports and social networks to help further their enterprise, officials said.
Among the contraband they reported seizing was eight pounds of pot, more than $11,000, a loaded assault weapon, two other guns and equipment to manufacture hash oil