ABC7 WEATHER: Mostly cloudy with highs in the upper 30s. http://wj.la/72e8x6
‘GOOD MORNING WASHINGTON’: Among the reports – More developments in the investigation into the murder of Alexandria’s Ruthanne Lodato; much more, beginning at 4:30 a.m. M-F.
MEDICAID EXPANSION: On a fast track to nowhere, per the Virginian-Pilot, “In some of his most forceful comments yet on Medicaid expansion, Gov. Terry McAuliffe condemned Republicans in the House of Delegates on Thursday for refusing to provide health care for the poor even though it is a "life and death" proposition. Speaking at a morning news event heralding a new state pilot program to better treat patients jointly eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, the Democrat denounced his GOP rivals for their unwillingness to even consider the matter.
" 'No, no, no, no' is not a way to negotiate," McAuliffe said to a state Capitol audience in reference to House Republicans' reluctance to discuss including Medicaid expansion in Virginia's proposed two-year, $96 billion budget. He and fellow Democrats are just as adamant about extending government-backed health care to thousands of uninsured low-income Virginians as most Republicans are in opposing it.” http://bit.ly/MTePl0
MEANWHILE: In your face, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “Gov. Terry McAuliffe will visit a Fredericksburg hospital today on his promotional tour for expanding health care to the uninsured, a day after House Republicans launched an unsuccessful attempt to extend the legislative session instead of having a special session to deal with the issue in the state budget. The Fredericksburg area is home turf for House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, who leads the opposition to a Senate plan for extending health coverage to uninsured Virginians as part of its proposed budget.
“. . .McAuliffe pronounced the House Republican proposal to extend the legislative session by 30 days past Saturday “a nonstarter.” He proved to be right as Republicans in the Senate failed to muster the two-thirds vote necessary to pass the procedural resolution, which the House had passed by a 70-30 margin. The Senate deadlocked, 20-20, on a party-line vote. Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, also voted against it.” http://bit.ly/1hSnm3I
WIND CROPS: Or something like that, per the Baltimore Sun, “Hundreds of acres of Maryland farmland that are protected from development at taxpayer expense could be turned into commercial wind or solar energy farms under legislation before the General Assembly.
“Farm groups and the O'Malley administration support the move, which they say could help struggling farmers stay viable while boosting prospects for "clean" renewable energy. Bills pending in House and Senate committees would let landowners who have sold their development rights to the state use up to 5 acres each for generating electricity from wind, sunshine or even decomposing animal and crop waste.” http://bsun.md/1dyfzGS
SAFEWAY SOLD: Cashier needed at Aisle 5, per the Washington Post, “Say goodbye to the traditional supermarket. Safeway announced Thursday that it was being acquired by the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management in a deal worth about $9 billion, part of an industry-wide shake-up that is transforming how consumers shop for their food.
“Effectively a merger between Safeway and supermarket chain Albertsons, already owned by Cerberus, the deal is an attempt to compete in the increasingly tough grocery business, which is now crowded by a gamut of retailers, from drugstores and Wal-Mart to local neighborhood farmers markets. Over the past decade, supermarkets have lost about 15 percent of their market share to other retailers, according to Phil Lempert, an editor at Supermarket News. “The traditional supermarket that we grew up with and that we love needs to evolve,” Lempert said.” http://wapo.st/1hSpvfQ
UKRAINE/CRIMEA: The latest, per the New York Times, “The speaker of the Russian Parliament said on Friday that Russia would embrace a decision by Crimea to break away from Ukraine and become part of the Russian Federation, the first public signal that the Kremlin would back a secessionist move that Western leaders and the government in Kiev have denounced as a violation of international law.
“The Crimean Parliament voted behind closed doors on Thursday to break away from Ukraine and scheduled a referendum on the issue for March 16, which leaders in Parliament said was intended to allow Crimean voters to ratify their decision. In Moscow, where lawmakers from Simferopol, the Crimean capital, met with Russian legislators, Sergei Naryshkin, the speaker of the State Duma, the lower house of Parliament, said Russian lawmakers would strongly endorse the move.” http://nyti.ms/1g52dTs
MEANWHILE: Of a phone call, per the Los Angeles Times, “President Obama spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, emphasizing that Moscow's actions in Ukraine's Crimea peninsula violate that country's sovereignty but that a diplomatic solution is possible. Obama and Putin spoke for an hour during the afternoon, the White House said in a statement.
“The call came as ethnic Russian regional lawmakers in Crimea voted in favor of secession and moved to put the issue before voters in 10 days. Officials in Washington, Kiev and other European cities denounced the secession bid as unconstitutional. Thousands of Kremlin troops are in control of Crimea's military, government and commercial operations. The peninsula's Moscow-backed Russian-speaking majority is refusing to be ruled by the government in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital.” http://lat.ms/1nmcdtD
SORRY: So says Issa, per The Hill, “House Republicans were thrust onto the defensive Thursday as Democrats waged a multi-pronged attack against Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and his aggressive leadership style atop the House Oversight Committee. Issa came under attack for killing the microphone on Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the panel's senior Democrat, at the end of a heated hearing on political targeting at the Internal Revenue Service.
“Issa said he personally apologized Thursday for silencing Cummings during the hearing, according to UT San Diego. Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.), a member of House leadership, said Issa could have handled Wednesday’s hearing better, and suggested Republicans were frustrated that Issa had become the story, in lieu of the IRS.” http://bit.ly/1iiqbhg
POLITICO PLAY: “They liked him. They really liked him. Chris Christie ditched his purple-state prose for red meat Thursday, trashing Democrats, the media and President Barack Obama before a conservative gathering that snubbed him just last year.
“The results were golden for the New Jersey governor, a potential 2016 presidential contender struggling to shake off scandal and engage with a base that’s often been alienated by his moderate stances. In 2013, Christie wasn’t invited to the Conservative Political Action Conference partly because of his praise of President Barack Obama during the Hurricane Sandy crisis — an embrace some Republicans believed helped kill Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s shot at the White House. But this year, the crowd in the ballroom swelled ahead of his speech, he got a standing ovation even before he started talking, and his first few sentences were punctuated by supportive catcalls from the audience.” http://politi.co/MTn8xa
HOOPS ENDORSEMENT: For Bowser, per City Paper, “While mayoral candidate Andy Shallal has been cruising the faculty lounge for endorsements, rival Muriel Bowser is taking it to the hoop. On Monday, Bowser's campaign will host a fundraiser headlined by ex-University of Maryland and Houston Rockets player Steve Francis. Francis, who grew up in Takoma Park, . . .promises to bring an exciting edge to Bowser's campaign. In the video above, for example, "Stevie Franchise" shows off his tattoos and rubs his hands menacingly for the camera while District rapper Fat Trel mixes Hennessy with Pepsi.
“The Bowser campaign's invite recommends a minimum $50 donation to the event at the Westin Georgetown. Hopefully the fundraiser will go better than a Francis nightclub appearance last year, when the ex-star ended up in cuffs after another player tried to choke him.” http://bit.ly/1lCImyI
EXPORTING THE FARM: In a way, per the Roanoke Times, “Virginia’s exports of farm and forestry products grew more than 8 percent in 2013 to a record $2.85 billion, with China being the largest buyer and soybeans the top product. “That’s pretty close to $3?billion — let’s make it a goal, folks,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe said after announcing the export results Thursday at the Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade in Richmond.
“The conference, a gathering of farmers, agribusiness companies, government officials and foreign dignitaries, ends today. Exports had reached $2.61?billion in 2012, with China accounting for the biggest share that year, too. The 2012 trade figure was up by 12?percent from 2011, which in turn had increased by 11 percent from the previous year.” http://bit.ly/1cHdKUu
AN ‘EYESORE’: Of the Silver Spring Transit Center, per Gazette.Net, “Calling it an “eyesore” in the midst of downtown Silver Spring, former Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan is calling on the county government to provide answers on the stalled construction of the Silver Spring Transit Center project. The facility was originally scheduled to open in 2011, but construction defects have led to delays and cost overruns that have made the $120 million project at the corner of Colesville Road and Wayne Avenue in downtown Silver Spring a sore point for county politicians and residents alike.
“The public deserves answers about when the facility will open, a detailed plan to fix the problems and how much they will cost and whether the project will be safe when it does open, Duncan said Thursday at a press conference outside the fenced-off transit center site. “It’s time for answers,” Duncan said.” http://bit.ly/1genS7T
MARYLAND 75: Just the facts, per the Frederick News-Post, “Making improvements to Md. 75 will be Frederick County's top priority in its request for state funding. County commissioners voted to approve a transportation priority letter Thursday, which will be sent to the Maryland Department of Transportation. The agency will consider the priorities, along with those of other counties, before allocating funding for transportation projects.
“The commissioners appeared generally supportive of the list but disagreed on how to prioritize the items on it. A planning project to improve Md. 75 from I-70 to Lewisdale Road was moved ahead of projects at U.S. 15 and Md. 85 at the request of Commissioners President Blaine Young. A draft version of the list had the Md. 75 project as the third priority.” http://bit.ly/1owBrnG
SPEEDY DELIVERY: We ain’t talking pizza, per ARLnow, “Postmates, a San Francisco-based startup that uses couriers to deliver items from stores and restaurants directly to offices and homes in under an hour, has expanded to Arlington. The company announced the expansion earlier this week, adding Arlington and Bethesda and additional neighborhoods in the District of Columbia. Arlington neighborhoods now served by Postmates include Rosslyn, Courthouse, Clarendon, Lyon Village and North Highlands.” http://bit.ly/1gXfr2o
SPORTS, BRIEFLY: Caps lose 3-0 at Boston.
TRENDING ON ABC7 FACEBOOK: “A diplomatic family is smack dab in the middle of an FBI investigation, as a former employee alleges that they harbored her as a domestic servant in the couple's Alexandria home. According to charging documents, the worker was paid only $9,000 over a period of three years.” http://wj.la/1f3sOQQ
NEWSTALK: Among today’s guests (10 a.m., NewsChannel 8) is Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), who will be asked about the crisis in Ukraine.