DAYBREAK DAILY: Brown, Mizeur make nice over pot

ABC7 WEATHER: Mostly sunny with highs in the upper 20s.

‘GOOD MORNING WASHINGTON’: Among the reports – Montgomery County police chief will announce a significant development in the March 25, 1975 disappearance of the Lyon sisters; Washington Coliseum celebrates 50 years since the Beatles played there; much more, beginning at 4:30 a.m. M-F.

MAKING NICE OVER POT: Or something like that, per the Baltimore Sun, “Introducing a note of civility into an increasingly hard-hitting race for governor, Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown wrote to one of his Democratic rivals expressing approval of her legislation to decriminalize possession of marijuana. In a two-page letter that his office released to the media, Brown told Del. Heather R. Mizeur of Montgomery County that the recently introduced decriminalization bill is a "welcome part of the debate" and said he looked forward to working with her on the issue.

“The letter followed an equally cordial letter from Mizeur welcoming Brown's expression of support for decriminalization and inviting him to join her in testifying for the bill. Mizeur sent a similar invitation to Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, who also supports decriminalization. Brown's letter, written on the lieutenant governor's official letterhead and addressed to Mizeur as a delegate rather than a candidate, spells out the reasons Brown recently came out in support of decriminalization -- a break from the more hard-line position Gov. Martin O'Malley has taken.”

SCHOOL DAZE: Bills galore in Virginia, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “Measures to give schools more flexibility from the mandate that they start classes after Labor Day and to reduce the number of Standards of Learning tests in grades 3-8 — for an estimated savings of $3 million a year — are slated for final votes today in the House of Delegates. The House gave preliminary approval Monday to those measures as well as a bill seeking to delay by one year the A-F system for rating schools.

“Today is the last day for each chamber to act on its bills before they cross to the other chamber. Legislators of both parties indicated in floor speeches Monday that they preferred a longer delay in the A-F school rating program that was one of then-Gov. Bob McDonnell’s key education initiatives.”

SIMPLE KIND OF MAN: With limited appeal?, per the Washington Post, “Tommy Wells sat shotgun in an aging Lexus SUV on his way to a rowhouse where he would dutifully sip a glass of Norwegian mulled wine and introduce himself to residents of Burleith, a neighborhood north of Georgetown University. Eight months into his campaign, the 56-year-old D.C. Council member would adroitly explain why he is running for mayor: to “restore integrity” to District government, to solve a “crisis of ethics” in the city, to bring the improvements his own Ward 6 has seen to other parts of the District.

“The Democrat is less able to explain the conundrum of his political career: How did an ex-social worker who toiled in the city’s poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods, who played a major role in reforming the city’s child welfare system, become the candidate of bicycles and buses, of Twitter, YouTube and Reddit, of a “Top Chef”-themed campaign fundraiser?”

OBAMACARE: Another tweak, per the New York Times, “The Obama administration announced on Monday that it would postpone enforcement of a federal requirement for medium-size employers to provide health insurance to employees and allow larger employers more flexibility in how they provide coverage. The delay is the latest in a series of policy changes, extensions and clarifications by the administration, and it drew a new round of criticism from congressional Republicans, whose scorching attacks on the law have become a central theme in many of this year’s midterm election campaigns.

“The “employer mandate,” which was originally supposed to take effect last month, had already been delayed to Jan. 1, 2015, and now the administration says that employers with 50 to 99 employees will not have to comply until 2016 — allowing Democrats to placate business concerns and pushing the issue well beyond this year’s midterm elections. In addition, the administration said the requirement would be put into effect gradually for employers with 100 or more employees. Employers in this category will need to offer coverage to 70 percent of full-time employees in 2015 and 95 percent in 2016 and later years, or they will be subject to tax penalties.”

BRIDGEGATE: The latest, per the Newark Star-Ledger, “The state legislative committee investigating the George Washington Bridge scandal will issue 18 new subpoenas, including to Gov. Chris Christie's office, his inner circle and officials at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, The Star-Ledger has learned.

“Recipients include the State Police aviation unit, which oversees Christie's helicopter travel, four new members of Christie's office, and his failed state Supreme Court nominee, Phillip Kwon, who now works as deputy general counsel at the Port Authority.”

HEAD START: For Hillary, per The Hill, “Members of Team Clinton started talking about a 2016 presidential bid months before the former first lady left the State Department. The night President Obama won his second term, Allida Black and Adam Parkhomenko, veterans of Clinton’s 2008 campaign for the White House, exchanged emails about plans to start Ready for Hillary — a super-PAC promoting another run for the White House.

“While Clinton didn’t formally approve the political action committee, Black believed she had Clinton’s blessing, according to a book published Tuesday by The Hill’s Amie Parnes and Bloomberg’s Jonathan Allen. The book, titled HRC, reports that just months after Clinton left the State Department, longtime adviser Cheryl Mills — who functions as Hillary Clinton’s consigliere — met with Guy Cecil, the executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and a candidate to manage Clinton’s 2016 campaign.”

POLITICO PLAY: “After a few weeks of vote searching — and a good deal of soul searching — House Republicans say they think their best hope of raising the debt ceiling is to tie it to restoring pension cuts for retired soldiers. But even that might not work.

“The most recent strategy — unveiled in a private Monday night meeting in the Capitol — is meant to maximize Republican support, while daring Democrats to vote against restoring military benefit cuts. The vote is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, but top Republicans concede the bill might never make it to the floor — they won’t bring up a bill that won’t pass. Republicans cannot pass it by themselves, and Democrats likely won’t help push it over the edge. Senior Senate sources say it is likely a nonstarter in their chamber — they’ve constantly advocated for a debt-limit hike without extraneous policy provisions. On Monday, the Senate advanced a fix to military cost-of-living adjustments on its own, by a whopping 94-0.”

NO REMORSE: From sailor to spy, per the Virginian-Pilot, “A retired sailor received 30 years in prison Monday for trying to pass classified information to Russian spies, but not before giving the court a piece of his mind. Robert Patrick Hoffman II struck a defiant tone, claiming to be the victim of a large-scale government conspiracy and announcing plans to appeal his conviction for attempted espionage. He complained that the FBI and other government agents violated his constitutional rights, going so far as to delete emails that would have proven his innocence.

“He said the government will have to kill him to prevent the truth about his actions from coming out. "I will not beg for mercy from this court and certainly not the FBI," said Hoffman, wearing the black-and-gray-striped uniform of a Norfolk City Jail inmate. "I will not apologize for being good at my job."

LET’S MAKE A DEAL: Of ground rules, per the Frederick News-Post, “Several of John Patrick Ryan’s friends signed non-prosecution agreements in exchange for their testimony during the trial of the man charged with murder in the death of the 37-year-old Frederick businessman. Ryan, who was known as Brian to his friends and family, was found dead Dec. 3, 2012, in the trunk of his car in an auto body parking lot near the Shady Grove Metro station.

“Police and prosecutors believe 51-year-old Crofton businessman Michael Anthony Stahlnecker, who was operating a large marijuana trafficking operation with Ryan, killed him at Stahlnecker’s Laurel warehouse and transported his body to the Derwood parking lot.”

STANDING FIRM: With no cuts in pay, per Gazette.Net, “Montgomery County is vowing to protect its minimum wage hike, even as a newly released report by a pro-business group concluded that a statewide increase could be harmful. The Montgomery County Council is keeping a close eye on possible efforts in Annapolis to limit whether counties can increase minimum wages, as Montgomery and Prince George’s counties did in November, Council President Craig L. Rice said Monday.

“A report released Monday by the Maryland Foundation for Research and Economic Education said a minimum wage increase would hurt local economies. The report identifies four drawbacks to raising the minimum wage in Maryland: an increase in the price of consumer goods, a decline in employment and personal income, a decline in real estate values and increased competition for jobs with other states.”

TRENDING ON ABC7 FACEBOOK: “Don't have a Valentine this year? Not to worry, a website lets you send flowers to yourself -- from a "fake" Valentine! Choose from three types: The Romantic, The Creep, or The Secret Admirer. The company will even write you a personalized note. So...would you ever send yourself flowers?”

NEWSTALK: 10 a.m., NewsChannel 8.

--Skip Wood

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