DAYBREAK DAILY: Maryland Senate passes domestic violence bill

ABC7 WEATHER: Partly sunny with highs in the upper 30s.

‘GOOD MORNING WASHINGTON’: Among the reports – Comprehensive coverage of the recovery from the latest blasts of snow ; much more, beginning at 4:30 a.m. M-F.

GAY-MARRIAGE BAN IN VA. RULED UNCONSTITUTIONAL: But ruling is stayed pending appeal, per the Virginian-Pilot, “Add Virginia to the growing list of states where laws banning same-sex marriage are suffering legal setbacks. A ruling Thursday by Norfolk-based federal Judge Arenda Wright Allen found Virginia’s laws restricting marriage to one man and one woman unconstitutional on the grounds that they deny due process and equal protection rights.

“It makes Virginia the first state in the Southeast where a gay marriage ban has been struck down and opens a possible avenue to a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that could resolve the gay marriage issue for the nation. Allen’s ruling in favor of a gay Norfolk couple who sued after being denied a marriage license does not immediately invalidate Virginia’s limitations on marriage. The judge stayed her ruling, meaning the ban will remain in place pending a likely appeal.”

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: Of cracking down, per the Baltimore Sun, “The Maryland Senate passed one of the governor's proposals to combat domestic violence Thursday, sending to the House a bill that would make it easier for assault victims to obtain permanent court orders telling their abusers to stay away. Meeting despite the snow, senators approved the measure that would add second-degree assault to the list of crimes that can trigger a protective order. There was no debate or dissent.

“A similar measure is scheduled for a hearing in the House next week. Witnesses told a Senate committee last month that domestic violence victims have a hard time obtaining permanent protective orders because second-degree assault is not among the crimes for which perpetrators can be slapped with a lifetime ban on contacting the subject of the order.”

HIGH-DOLLAR DEFENSE: And a bake sale of sorts, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “Former Gov. Bob McDonnell’s legal defense fund is bolstering its fundraising appeal, writing to potential supporters that the cost for McDonnell’s defense is expected to top $1 million.

"McDonnell is in “the fight of his life,” the Restoration Fund states in an email sent Thursday. “The trial alone will cost approximately $500K for legal fees, housing, experts, transcripts etc.,” the email states. “We need to insure that the legal team has the resources to prepare and defend Bob at trial.” McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were indicted Jan. 21 on charges that they violated federal corruption laws by using their positions to benefit Jonnie R. Williams Sr., the then-CEO of Star Scientific, who showered them with more than $135,000 in gifts and loans.”

NEW DIGS PROPOSED: Changes coming to Capitol Square?, per the Washington Post, “(Virginia) would rip down the Capitol Square high-rise that houses offices for legislators and build a new one under a $280 million to $300 million plan that the General Assembly’s budget leaders will unveil Friday. The proposal includes renovations to the adjacent Old City Hall Building and would trigger a reshuffling of other state offices until the new building is completed in 2019, according to a copy of the plan obtained by The Washington Post.

“The rebuilding plan was prompted by a 2012 review indicating that the 11-story General Assembly Building had problems with asbestos, faulty air flow, rotting windows, a leaking roof and a crumbling facade. It is only a small part of the two distinct state budget proposals that House and Senate committees will separately approve Sunday. And it is expected to represent one of the rare areas of agreement between the two chambers as they lay out rival schemes for spending $96 billion over the coming two-year budget cycle.”

LATINOS AND OBAMACARE: An especially huge deal in California, per the New York Times, “With an estimated 15 percent of the country’s uninsured population, California is crucial to the success of President Obama’s health care overhaul. Here, that success cannot come without enrolling Latinos, who make up more than half of the state’s uninsured.

“But so far, enrollment of Latinos has fallen strikingly below the hopes of the law’s proponents, accounting for 20 percent or fewer of those who had signed up on the state-run health insurance exchange by the end of December. Now, state officials are rushing to expand marketing efforts and hire additional Spanish-speaking staff, hoping to sharply increase that number by March 31, when open enrollment in the new insurance plans ends.”

COMBAT PIZZA: Or something like that, per the Boston Globe, “They call it the holy grail of ready-to-eat meals for soldiers — a pizza that can stay on the shelf for up to three years and still remain good to eat. Soldiers have been asking for pizza since lightweight individual field rations — known as meals ready to eat, or MREs — replaced canned food in 1981 for soldiers in combat zones or areas where field kitchens cannot be set up.

“Researchers at a U.S. military lab in Massachusetts are closing in on a recipe that doesn’t require any refrigeration or freezing. ‘‘You can basically take the pizza, leave it on the counter, packaged, for three years and it'd still be edible,’’ said Michelle Richardson, a food scientist at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center.”

MINIMUM WAGE: Talking tactics, per The Hill, “House Democrats are launching an effort to force Republicans' hand on the minimum wage. The Democrats will introduce a discharge petition later this month designed to force a floor vote on a proposal to hike the minimum wage, even in the face of entrenched opposition from GOP leaders.

“The discharge petition faces a high bar, as it would require at least 18 Republicans to buck their leadership and endorse the measure – a scenario the Democrats readily acknowledge is unlikely. "I don't think we're ever confident that we're going to get 18 Republicans to sign a discharge petition," House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) conceded during the Democrats' annual issues retreat on Maryland's Eastern Shore.”

POLITICO PLAY: “Like it or not, we’re having a national flashback to the 1990s—replete with images of thong underwear near the Oval Office, semen-stained blue dresses and all manner of sordid details we thought we’d outgrown. These nostalgic tidbits come to us courtesy of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, the possible 2016 presidential contender who, anticipating a matchup against Hillary Clinton, has lately been determined to remind America what happened the last time the Clintons occupied the White House.

“In a series of recent interviews, Paul has resurrected the Monica Lewinsky scandal, which first surfaced in sensational fashion in 1998, when the president was accused of having an affair, of sorts, with the 20-year-old White House intern.”

GOOD FOR GAYS: Oh high marks, per City Paper, “Vince Gray and Tommy Wells are the most gay-friendly candidates in the District's crowded mayoral field, according to new candidate ratings from the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance. Using an elaborate calculus based on candidate records and questionnaires that cover topics from medical marijuana restrictions to eased liquor license requirements, eight activists met Tuesday for a process that ended with Gray receiving a maximum +10 on a scale of -10 to +10.

"Our few differences were swamped by [Gray's] total record of accomplishment," a press release from the group reads. Gray also had the highest mayoral candidate score in the 2010 race, when he received +8.5 to Adrian Fenty's +4. Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells came in second to Gray with +9.5, based on his work on marriage officiant and birth certificate bills.”

MARYLAND HEALTH CARE: Of another player, per Gazette.Net, “The federal health care reform law — known as the Affordable Care Act — is sparking a vast array of changes across Maryland and the nation. More providers are joining together to better compete with larger hospital networks and cut costs, while more people are at least trying to obtain coverage through exchange networks that have gotten off to a rocky start since rolling out in October.

“Last month, Gaithersburg-based Adventist HealthCare started operating the Mid-Atlantic Primary Care Accountable Care Organization, an entity designed to improve the coordination of medical services and reduce costs. It is one of more than 100 nationally approved by the federal agency Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services to participate in a shared-savings program.”

THE HEROIN PROBLEM: Searching for solutions, per the Frederick News-Post, “Amid growing concern about heroin abuse in Frederick County, a local lawmaker wants to free up government agencies to share medical, law enforcement and social services records about overdose deaths.

“A bill sponsored by Delegate Kelly Schulz would lead to the formation of local and state fatality review teams that would gather data, investigate overdose cases and craft recommendations for government leaders. Breaking down the walls between agencies would enable stakeholders to gain deeper insight into drug abuse problems, she argues.”

TRENDING ON ABC7 FACEBOOK: “In Montgomery County, some students and parents are taking to social media to share their thoughts on the snow days -- and a few people are crossing the line with offensive tweets. Now there's talk of introducing "cyber civility" by creating a task force that will help get the message across about communicating respectfully and responsibly via social media and email.”

NEWSTALK: Among today’s topics (10 a.m., NewsChannel 8) -- With six weeks to go until the primary, where does the race for mayor stand in D.C.? We'll ask political analyst Doug Sloan.

--Skip Wood