DAYBREAK DAILY: Maryland's insurance exchange still battling bugs

ABC7 WEATHER: Overcast with a slight chance of rain and highs in the low 50s.

‘GOOD MORNING WASHINGTON’: Among the reports – Water main break affects southbound Connecticut Ave.; Mega Millions fever; much more, beginning at 4:30 a.m. M-F.

TURNS OUT THE FIX IS NOT IN: At least not yet, per the Baltimore Sun, “Less than two days after Gov. Martin O'Malley declared that the state's online insurance marketplace finally worked for most consumers, a server crashed Monday, the call center became overwhelmed and the governor announced he was bringing in another contractor to improve the website.

Some consumers and advocacy groups reported Monday that the website where consumers can buy health plans under the federal Affordable Care Act is easier to navigate. But others said they are still running into frozen screens, error messages and other problems that have plagued Maryland Health Connection since it launched Oct. 1. "It's crashing all over the place," said Peter Beilenson, who has served in local health departments and now runs the insurance co-op Evergreen Health Cooperative Inc. He spoke after several failed attempts to enroll people through the exchange. "It's stopping at various parts. Bottom line, no, not functional."

VIRGINIA AND MEDICAID: Of two administrations, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “Even if Virginia decides to expand its Medicaid program, Gov. Bob McDonnell wants a second look in two years before the state would start paying part of the bill. McDonnell proposed Monday to put a sunset clause on any expansion of the program by the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission, created this year to oversee reforms that lawmakers insist be accomplished before — or, some say, at the same time as — expanding the program under the federal Affordable Care Act.

“The governor doesn’t favor expanding the program, but his proposal would force what he called “a full evaluation of Medicaid reform efforts and whether Virginia can afford expansion.” Any expansion would sunset on June 30, 2016, six months before the federal government begins stepping down its financial commitment from 100 percent to 90 percent of the annual bill.”

RECOUNT: So far, it breaks Herring’s way, per the Washington Post, “After the first day of the recount in Virginia’s election for attorney general, Democrat Mark R. Herring appeared to have widened his narrow lead over Republican Mark D. Obenshain with a net gain of 91 votes in Fairfax County, officials said. The preliminary results injected another round of uncertainty into a race that Obenshain led on election night but that swung to Herring during the subsequent topsy-turvy days when election officials canvassed the tallies and discovered numerous errors.

“Volunteers labored away in three jurisdictions where recounting began Monday in the closest statewide election in Virginia history. While most of the state will start counting Tuesday, Fairfax started Monday because of its large size — and Alexandria and Chesapeake did so because their voting equipment requires them to recount ballots by hand.”

NSA TAKES ANOTHER HIT: This time by a legal ruling, per the New York Times, “A federal district judge ruled on Monday that the National Security Agency program that is systematically keeping records of all Americans’ phone calls most likely violates the Constitution, describing its technology as “almost Orwellian” and suggesting that James Madison would be “aghast” to learn that the government was encroaching on liberty in such a way.

“The judge, Richard J. Leon of Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, ordered the government to stop collecting data on the personal calls of the two plaintiffs in the case and to destroy the records of their calling history. But Judge Leon, appointed to the bench in 2002 by President George W. Bush, stayed his injunction “in light of the significant national security interests at stake in this case and the novelty of the constitutional issues,” allowing the government time to appeal it, which he said could take at least six months.”

MEANWHILE: Do tell, per the Huffington Post, “The guy who successfully convinced a judge that the NSA's metadata program was likely unconstitutional is a conservative lawyer who once sued his own mother, is closely affiliated with the birther movement, and thinks President Barack Obama is a Muslim.

“. . . (Larry) Klayman, who earlier this year called on Obama "to get up, to put the Quran down, to get up off his knees, and to figuratively come up with his hands out," believes that the NSA is not only getting records of his phone calls, but is actively listening in on them as well as reading his emails. He also said Monday he believes that he's getting "special treatment" from the NSA, charging that friends have received text messages from him that he never sent.”

OBAMACARE: Back and forth they go, per The Hill, “The long-simmering feud between the Obama administration and Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Ca.) boiled over Monday amid charges and counter-charges that each side was failing to safeguard sensitive ObamaCare information. Issa conducted a field hearing in Dallas to promote a new report criticizing the ObamaCare “navigators,” saying they had failed to adequately protect Social Security numbers and other private consumer data.

“The White House and Democrats responded with an aggressive counter-attack accusing Issa of recklessly handling sensitive material. The White House general counsel went around Issa in a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), asking he intervene to prevent further leaks.”

POLITICO PLAY: “Democrats who have spent months agonizing over how to damage Chris Christie’s presidential prospects think they’ve finally found an entry point. It’s on a bridge between New Jersey and New York. The Republican governor, who coasted to a double-digit reelection win in blue New Jersey in November, is being pummeled on a daily basis by local and national Democrats over the bizarre story of sudden lane closures earlier this year onto the George Washington Bridge, which caused massive traffic delays for days on the New Jersey side.

“Democrats allege the lane closures were retribution against the mayor of Fort Lee, a Democrat who declined to endorse Christie against his underfunded rival in the governor’s race, Democrat Barbara Buono. Lanes in Fort Lee to the bridge were reduced from three to one for four days in September. The closures came ahead of the gubernatorial election at a time when Christie, who received crossover endorsements from a number of Democrats, was looking to maximize his support from the rival party.”

MARYLAND RACE 2014: Wooing Montgomery County, per Gazette.Net, “Six gubernatorial hopefuls met on the same stage Monday to convince a packed house of Montgomery County movers and shakers to back their campaign aspirations. Answering questions specific to Montgomery County, the candidates took turns laying out policy ideas, giving nearly 800 business and political leaders at the Committee for Montgomery’s legislative breakfast a taste of what each would bring to Annapolis.

“Despite being the state’s largest jurisdiction and often called its economic engine, no Montgomery County resident has ever been elected governor, potentially making 2014 an historic year for the county. Two of the three Democratic candidates — Del. Heather Mizeur and Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler — call Montgomery home.”

ON SECOND THOUGHT: Of uranium mining, per the Danville Register & Bee, “Merely a few weeks before the start of the 2014 General Assembly session, Virginia Uranium announced it has suspended plans to back legislation that would have pushed its goal of mining a uranium deposit in Pittsylvania County. . . Virginia has had a moratorium on uranium mining for more than 30 years.

“. . . According to Virginia Uranium project manager and spokesman Patrick Wales, the company will use the next year to consider its next move, but that the pause doesn’t mean the company has abandoned its objective. . . Virginia Uranium’s decision to put the brakes on its efforts comes just weeks after governor-elect Terry McAuliffe publicly vowed to veto any legislative efforts to remove the ban on uranium mining.”

MRS. PRESIDENT: But not for long, per the Frederick News-Post, “Frederick County's Board of Education will vote Wednesday to decide who will replace longtime member Jean Smith as its next president. She will not seek re-election as she begins her 20th year on the local school board, choosing instead to step back and “be a good board member” until her term ends in 2014.”

ROCKIN’ THE HALL: Of familiar names, per Rolling Stone, “The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has officially announced next year's inductees: Nirvana, Kiss, Peter Gabriel, Hall and Oates, Cat Stevens and Linda Ronstadt will all join the class of 2014. The E Street Band will be given the Award for Musical Excellence and Beatles manager Brian Epstein and original Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham will both receive the Ahmet Ertegun Award for non-performers.

“The induction ceremony will be held at Brooklyn's Barclays Center on April 10th, 2014. It's the first time the general public will be able to attend the event in New York City. Tickets go on sale in January; HBO will air the event in May.”

CAJUN OBIT: Just the facts, per New Orleans’ Times-Picayune, “George Rodrigue, a Cajun bricklayer’s son whose fanciful painting of a beloved pet became an iconic image that was displayed in advertising campaigns and on the walls of celebrities’ homes and the White House, died Saturday, Dec. 14, of cancer at Methodist Hospital in Houston. He was 69.

“. . . He became internationally celebrated and cherished for his Blue Dog paintings, which were inspired by a deceased pet named Tiffany. The blue spaniel-terrier mix, with a white nose and yellow eyes, first appeared in 1984. Since then, it has turned up in advertising campaigns for Absolut Vodka, Neiman Marcus and Xerox Corp.; in posters for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival; in Harrah’s New Orleans casino; and on an apartment wall in the situation comedy “Friends.”

SPORTS, BRIEFLY: Wizards beat Knicks 102-101.

TRENDING ON ABC7 FACEBOOK: “According to the National Zoo, baby panda Bao Bao weighed in at 13.2 pounds early Friday morning, and spent her first entire day outside of the den! Her teeth are starting to come in, and keepers are starting to reward her for interacting with them. She receives a tiny evergreen branch or a tiny piece of bamboo to play with.”

NEWSTALK: Among today’s guests (10 a.m., NewsChannel 8) is D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier, who will be asked about accusations of wrongdoing by MPD officers, the Wilson Aquatic Center sex assault and the department's capturing of millions of license plate images.

--Skip Wood