DAYBREAK DAILY: Creigh Deeds returns to Virginia Senate

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‘GOOD MORNING WASHINGTON’: Among the reports – Coverage of a shooting death in Prince George’s County; Man accused of shooting Alexandria police officer Peter Laboy scheduled for competency hearing; much more, beginning at 4:30 a.m. M-F.

CREIGH DEEDS: Back in the saddle, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “He was the first lawmaker in the room, sitting at his desk in the back row of the Virginia Senate, poring over a stack of papers long before his colleagues entered the chamber. If anyone would have been excused from showing up on the first day, or maybe for the entire General Assembly session, it would have been Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath.

“Less than two months ago, Deeds, 55, was severely wounded when his mentally troubled 24-year-old son, Austin “Gus” Deeds, stabbed him repeatedly outside his rural Millboro home before heading inside and taking his own life with a rifle. On Wednesday, Deeds was back in Richmond, just as he had been in the last 22 Januarys, but this time doing his best to cope with a personal tragedy that has left scars both visible and unseen. A long red line ran from beneath Deeds' left eye and down his cheek to his jawline; another began at the bridge of his nose above his right eye and trailed up his forehead to his hairline.”

MEANWHILE: An apology, per the Virginian-Pilot, “Outgoing Gov. Bob McDonnell took a mostly sunny trip down memory lane in his final address to the legislature Wednesday, reveling in the halcyon moments and gains made in his tenure, while also seeking public forgiveness for transgressions that have sullied his reputation.

"I have prayed fervently over the last months that the collective good that we have done would not be obscured by this ordeal," McDonnell told legislators and invited dignitaries, as well as Virginians watching on television, in reference to a gift scandal that dogged him in the final year of his term. "So tonight, I say to all you, to all Virginians, that I am deeply sorry for the problems and the pain that I have caused for you during this past year," he added. That reflective and somber moment came deep into his otherwise upbeat 51-minute State of the Commonwealth speech to a ceremonial joint session of the General Assembly on the opening night of the 2014 session.”

WE’RE NO. 1?: Actually, no, per the Baltimore Sun, “Maryland's superintendent of schools has no plans to take down dozens of signs in the windows of her agency's headquarters that proclaim Maryland No. 1 in education. Likewise, Gov. Martin O'Malley is unlikely to stop bragging that Maryland is No. 1 in the nation, a point he made again Wednesday on Twitter.

“But technically, Maryland cannot claim that distinction anymore. Education Week, a national education newspaper that has given Maryland schools the top mark for the past five years, has stopped ranking the states in its annual Quality Counts report. It was considered the most comprehensive ranking of the nation's schools.”

WHAT THEY DID: Of “other people,” per the Washington Post, “D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray offered his first public apology Wednesday for his troubled 2010 campaign, seeking to address the main obstacle to a second term just days before his reelection kickoff rally. “I didn’t do anything,” Gray (D) told WUSA (Channel 9). “At the same time, I want to apologize to people about the campaign. I can’t apologize for what other people did. But it was the Vincent Gray campaign, I understand that.”

“. . . Gray granted the interview, his first extended Q&A since announcing his reelection bid, to longtime reporter and anchor Bruce Johnson ahead of a campaign kickoff rally scheduled for Saturday at a community center in Southeast Washington. Gray declined to repeat the apology Wednesday night when asked about the interview after a community meeting in the Congress Heights neighborhood of Southeast Washington, where he laid out highlights of his administration and answered questions for 90 minutes.”

CHRISTIEGATE: Or something like that, per the New York Times, “The mystery of who closed two lanes onto the George Washington Bridge — turning the borough of Fort Lee, N.J., into a parking lot for four days in September — exploded into a full-bore political scandal for Gov. Chris Christie on Wednesday. Emails and texts revealed that a top aide had ordered the closings to punish the town’s mayor after he did not endorse the governor for re-election. “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Bridget Anne Kelly, a deputy chief of staff to Mr. Christie, emailed David Wildstein, a high school friend of the governor who worked at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the bridge.

“Later text messages mocked concerns that school buses filled with students were stuck in gridlock: “They are the children of Buono voters,” Mr. Wildstein wrote, referring to Mr. Christie’s opponent Barbara Buono. The emails are striking in their political maneuvering, showing Christie aides gleeful about some of the chaos that resulted. Emergency vehicles were delayed in responding to three people with heart problems and a missing toddler, and commuters were left fuming. One of the governor’s associates refers to the mayor of Fort Lee as “this little Serbian,” and Ms. Kelly exchanges messages about the plan while she is in line to pay her respects at a wake.”

JOBLESS: Of pawns, per The Hill, “The Democratic campaign to extend federal jobless benefits for three months was put on hold Wednesday evening as a group of bipartisan lawmakers sought a way to pay for it. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) postponed a procedural vote on a three-month bill to buy time for negotiations over an offset. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) was working with Democrats on finding savings to cover the cost of a three-month extension in hopes that a stopgap could lead to a larger overhaul of the program.

“. . . The shift comes after a weeks-long campaign by Reid, President Obama and other Democratic leaders to pressure GOP leaders into accepting the three-month extension without offsetting the $6.4 billion cost. Most Republicans have balked at the proposal, opposing either the underlying policy or the lack of an offset, and the provision was excluded from December's bipartisan budget package. But a procedural vote on the short-term extension hopped a key hurdle Tuesday, when six Republicans, including Portman, joined with Democrats to advance the bill in the face of a filibuster.”

POLITICO PLAY: “President Barack Obama’s desire to renew emergency jobless benefits is running into a familiar avalanche of indifference: the House. House Republicans are showing little appetite, urgency and interest in extending the program, and are hinting that they are content to let the issue disappear if the Senate fails to pass its own legislation.

“The reasons for this stance are plentiful. Some Republicans think the nation is awash with unoccupied jobs, others are wary of shuffling more government money to the unemployed and nearly every GOP lawmaker wants to see seismic changes to the way benefits are administered.”

D.C. DOPE: And other things, per City Paper, “Supporters of an initiative legalizing marijuana in D.C. say they'll turn in their proposed ballot language by the end of the week. But pot might not be the only issue on the ballot in November, with the Board of Elections meeting Wednesday to consider putting up for a vote an initiative that would guarantee housing to District residents.

“If it wins ballot approval and passes in the fall, the Right to Housing Act of 2014 would require the District to provide housing for anyone who's homeless or makes less than $40,000 a year. If the District couldn't provide housing to someone, they could sue the city. The initiative is being considered two months after Vince Gray announced a plan to build 3,200 affordable housing units.”

PATTING THEMSELVES: On the back, per the Frederick News-Post, “Maryland lawmakers launched into the final legislative session of their elected terms Wednesday with a look back at an action-packed three years.

“On the session’s opening day, some officials celebrated the recent success of controversial proposals that range from death penalty repeal to legalization of same-sex marriage and raising the gas tax. And though lawmakers have put the bulk of the current term behind them, the coming session promises another round of strong debate over issues such as whether to raise the state’s minimum wage.”

TEACHER ARRESTED: Just the facts, per Gazette.Net, “A Briggs Chaney Middle School teacher was arrested Wednesday morning and charged with three counts of second-degree assault, according to Montgomery County police. The assault charges stem from incidents of unwanted physical contact with three female coworkers at the Silver Spring school, police said.

“We have three victims that have come forward,” said Cpl. Rebecca Innocenti, a spokeswoman for county police. Walter Stafon Bowman, 37, of the 4900 block of Veronica Court in Indian Head was also charged with one count of false imprisonment for holding one of the three school employees in a tight hug, Innocenti said.”

SPORTS, BRIEFLY: Wizards beat New Orleans 102-96.

TRENDING ON ABC7 FACEBOOK: “This is video you've got to see - the sun unleashed a massive solar flare yesterday, and it was all caught on tape. Watch it here:

NEWSTALK: Among today’s guests (10 a.m., NewsChannel 8) is Kevin Gover, head of the National Museum of the American Indian, who will be asked about issues facing the Native American community. And Larry Doyle, author of "In Bed with Wall Street," looks at why stocks are on a tear but jobs are still scarce.

--Skip Wood