DAYBREAK DAILY: Deeds urges quick action on mental health

ABC7 WEATHER: Partly sunny with highs in the low 50s. { }

‘GOOD MORNING WASHINGTON’: Among the reports – Pedestrian struck during hit-and-run in College Park; President Obama to discuss plans for overhauling the government's surveillance programs; much more, beginning at 4:30 a.m. M-F.

DEEDS URGES QUICK ACTION: Of mental health issues, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath, on Thursday urged his colleagues to waste no time in changing how Virginia handles mental health crises such as the one that claimed the life of his son, Austin C. “Gus” Deeds, on Nov. 19. Deeds — scarred from being stabbed by his son, who then shot himself to death — told a Senate subcommittee that time means everything when someone is being held involuntarily for evaluation in a psychiatric emergency.

“Every single one of these situations is life-and-death — every single one,” he told a Senate Education and Health subcommittee. “You have to treat them with urgency.” . . . The subcommittee unanimously endorsed proposals by Deeds and Sen. Stephen D. Newman, R-Lynchburg, to require Virginia to create a Web-based registry of state, private and local psychiatric beds to save time for emergency workers to find appropriate facilities for people who pose a danger to themselves or others.”

DOING IT COLORADO STYLE: Or something like that, per the Baltimore Sun, “Advocates of legalizing marijuana launched their effort Thursday to change the law in Maryland, calling the war on drugs a failure and pointing to growing public support for their cause. A handful of Maryland lawmakers hope to push the state in the direction of Colorado, where recreational use of pot is regulated and taxed like alcohol. Advocates say that would generate about $150 million in tax dollars for Maryland each year.

“Supporters compared the changing public attitude toward legalizing marijuana to the more recent embrace of same-sex marriage and the rejection of Prohibition policies more than 80 years ago. . . The new Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland includes advocates who helped pass the recreational marijuana law in Colorado; candidates for governor and attorney general; the American Civil Liberties Union; and Del. Sheila Hixson, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees tax policy.”

KAINE’S NEW BUDDY: Not a Democrat but goal is the same, per the Virginian-Pilot, “U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine and John McCain proposed Thursday that the War Powers Act be rewritten to give legislators a stronger say in deciding to send troops into armed conflict. The legislation by the Virginia Democrat and the Arizona Republican stems from a growing frustration that the shifting nature of war has resulted in presidents too often sending troops into conflicts without giving Congress a chance to be heard.

“Their measure focuses on the War Powers Resolution of 1973, a law meant to clarify provisions in the U.S. Constitution that give Congress the power to declare war but state that the president is the military's commander in chief. The 1973 resolution requires the president to consult Congress before committing forces abroad, with some exceptions. The president can take action without legislative approval after an attack on the United States, its territories or its military, the law says.” { }

D.C. SCHOOLS: Mixed poll results, per the Washington Post, “The share of District residents who think that the city’s public schools are performing well has more than doubled since the mid-1990s, but most continue to give low ratings to the schools, according to a new Washington Post poll.
“That poor opinion of D.C. public education appears to be a weakness for Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D), who is seeking reelection and draws far lower approval ratings for his school improvement efforts than in other key policy areas. Just 38 percent of city residents think that Gray has done an “excellent” or “good” job improving schools, compared with 55 percent who praise his efforts to reduce crime and 68 percent who say he has done well attracting new business to the District.”

CIGARETTES SLAMMED: Again, per the New York Times, “In a broad review of scientific literature, the nation’s top doctor has concluded that cigarette smoking — long known to cause lung cancer and heart disease — also causes diabetes, colorectal and liver cancers, erectile dysfunction and ectopic pregnancy. In a report to the nation to be released on Friday, the acting surgeon general, Dr. Boris D. Lushniak, significantly expanded the list of illnesses that cigarette smoking has been scientifically proved to cause.

“The other health problems the report names are vision loss, tuberculosis, rheumatoid arthritis, impaired immune function and cleft palates in children of women who smoke. Smoking has been known to be associated with these illnesses, but the report was the first time the federal government concluded that smoking causes them.”

BRIDGEGATE: Hello subpoenas, per the New York Post, “The New Jersey Assembly special committee investigating the “Bridgegate” scandal issued 20 subpoenas Thursday in a bid to unravel last year’s scheme to tie up traffic in Fort Lee. The committee didn’t identify its first-round targets, but Gov. Chris Christie isn’t among them, sources told The Post.

“The subjects being slapped with subpoenas are expected to be named once they’ve been served. Two separate legislative committees are probing the motive behind the closure of two approach lanes to the George Washington Bridge, which resulted in massive tie-ups over four days in September.”

ED GILLESPIE: Of a tall task, per The Hill, “In deeply-divided Virginia, there’s rare bipartisan agreement — former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie is the strongest candidate the GOP could field against Sen. Mark Warner (D). Even Democrats admit Republicans accomplished a coup by landing Gillespie, a former top advisor to President George W. Bush and powerhouse lobbyist. But both parties concur the popular Warner will be hard to oust.

“I'm surprised Ed took it on, because Ed is a very savvy individual and a very good campaigner,” Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) told The Hill. The Northern Virginia congressman, who just announced his own retirement Wednesday, echoed the steady refrain of other state Democrats — it might not make a difference how good Gillespie is, because Warner is better.”

POLITICO PLAY: “Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn confirmed Thursday night that he will not serve out his full Senate term and intends to step down after 2014 because of deepening health problems. In a statement, Coburn acknowledged that he is battling a serious recurrence of cancer and said he would continue to fight for his priorities during the remainder of his time in office.

“Carolyn and I have been touched by the encouragement we’ve received from people across the state regarding my latest battle against cancer. But this decision isn’t about my health, my prognosis or even my hopes and desires,” Coburn said. “As a citizen, I am now convinced that I can best serve my own children and grandchildren by shifting my focus elsewhere.”

BOWSER PROTESTS: Of dueling polls, per City Paper, “Tuesday's Washington Post poll left Muriel Bowser with just half of Vince Gray's numbers, a hard knock for a candidate who had previously been considered Gray's leading challenger. Bowser's campaign responded today, releasing an internal poll that says Bowser is nearly tied with Gray.

"It’s basically a dead heat with the mayor," says Bowser campaign manager Bo Shuff. Bowser's poll, from firm Garin-Hart-Yang, has Gray at 20 percent and Bowser at 18 percent, with a 4.4 percent margin of error. Jack Evans and Tommy Wells are close behind, both at 15 percent. Vincent Orange has 6 percent of the vote, with 23 percent undecided.”

RUNNING FOR DOLLARS: That’s all -- for now, per the Frederick News-Post, “Jan Gardner and Blaine Young have not yet stepped into the ring as election opponents. But this week’s release of campaign finance numbers highlighted the yet-to-be-defined rivalry between the past and present Frederick County commissioners.

“Gardner, who is officially in the running for the new office of Frederick County executive, gathered roughly $45,473 from the time she created her campaign committee in September through Jan. 8, the close of the reporting period. Though Young hasn’t made up his mind about entering the race, he did rack up roughly $69,517 during the yearlong fundraising cycle.”

WATER BILLS: A shower will now cost (TBD), per Gazette.Net, “Water and sewer rates in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties would increase by 6 percent under a budget proposal issued this week by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission. If approved, the rate hike would add about $4.47 per month, or $13.41 per quarter, to what the utility would charge a typical customer, beginning July 1, based on household usage of about 210 gallons of water daily.

“The rate hike follows a 7.25 percent increase last year, preceded by rate increases ranging from 9 percent to 7.5 percent between 2012 and 2008 and from 6.5 percent to 2.5 percent between 2007 and 2004. Before that, WSSC rates did not increase for six years, following a belt-tightening at the public utility after lawmakers, in the mid-1990s, pushed for moving more of the utility’s work to the private sector.”

HAPPY HOUR: Out of the closet, per the Roanoke Times, “Happy hour is a tradition at a lot of bars and restaurants, and on Jan. 29, Virginia establishments will be able to advertise it. The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control announced Thursday that it received final approval on its proposed regulation changes.

“Restaurants will be able to market happy hour and the time span of their drink specials more broadly. Previously, Virginia restaurants could only promote happy hour inside the establishment or on a 17-by-22-inch sign attached to the outside of the business, according to a release from Virginia ABC. However, promoting specific happy hour drink prices and specials will still be restricted, which is a buzz-kill for some restaurants owners. Even after the changes, prices for after-work cocktails will still be hidden from view.”

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NEWSTALK: Among today’s guests (10 a.m., NewsChannel 8) is Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), who will be asked about unemployment insurance, the budget, Iran, the NSA and the retirements of Jim Moran and Frank Wolf.

--Skip Wood