ABC7 WEATHER: Mostly cloudy with highs in the low 40s. http://wj.la/72e8x6
‘GOOD MORNING WASHINGTON’: Among the reports – Virginia gay marriage case hits federal court today; D.C. officials to formally address and debate decriminalizing marijuana; much more, beginning at 4:30 a.m. M-F.
STATE OF THE COMMONWEALTH?: Groovy, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “Virginians are optimistic about the direction of the state – especially compared with that of the nation – and about its new governor, Terry McAuliffe, according to a new poll. A majority of voters supports a $250 cap on gifts to lawmakers from lobbyists, and the creation of an ethics advisory commission, and back expanding Medicaid as long as the federal government covers its share of the cost.
“Voters think Virginia governors should be able to run for re-election – Virginia is the only state that bars consecutive terms -- but they want to continue registering to vote without specifying a political party. A Christopher Newport University poll released Monday morning shows that voters support expanding Medicaid 56 percent to 38 percent, but not if the federal government does not pay its share of the costs.” http://bit.ly/1ekQtwX
MEANWHILE: Of gay marriage, per the Virginian-Pilot, “A day before a muscular legal assault on Virginia’s gay marriage ban unfolds in a Norfolk courtroom, Republican lawmakers in Richmond scrambled to devise a way to defend the embattled law. On a largely party-line 65-32 vote, the Republican-controlled House of Delegates passed legislation Monday that would give the House, the state Senate or any individual member of the General Assembly permission to defend a state law in court if the governor and attorney general choose not to do so.
“The measure is aimed squarely at preserving Virginia’s 2006 constitutional amendment that declared only a union between a man and a woman can be a valid marriage. A Norfolk gay couple, Tim Bostic and Tony London, filed a lawsuit in federal court last summer seeking to overturn the Virginia law on the grounds that it violates the U.S. Constitution. Two more plaintiffs, a lesbian couple from Chesterfield County, have since joined the case.” http://bit.ly/1gHrd5L
MARYLAND WEED: An unlikely advocate, per the Baltimore Sun, “Not long after Neill Franklin stepped behind a lectern in Annapolis to argue for making marijuana legal, the retired law enforcement officer was fighting tears again. It happens all the time — whenever he pauses to think of the futility of the war on drugs and the lives he says have been wasted. "We've been at this forever," he said. "It never worked."
As a broadening coalition pushes to legalize marijuana in Maryland this year, advocates have turned to Franklin to help sell the idea. A top official of the state's American Civil Liberties Union calls him "the linchpin" of the advocacy campaign. "When he talks about the drug war, he knows what he's talking about," said Sara Love, public policy director with the ACLU of Maryland. "He's been out on the street, he's arrested people — and realized at the end that those arrests haven't helped anybody." http://bsun.md/MVM9ZN
LURKING: But not in the shadows, per the Washington Post, “Andy Shallal glanced around the room full of D.C. voters, finally rapt with attention, and then back at the two teenagers who wanted to first read poetry. The Busboys and Poets owner had been waiting for hours, past 11 p.m., to address the crowd. It was well beyond the point at which the five more-practiced politicians ahead of him in the race for mayor might have stayed to appeal to a house party.
“But Shallal is not a typical candidate. He smiled and ceded the stage — and perhaps his moment — as the young poets struck up a hip-hop beat and began pounding out themes of peace, justice and the quest to send “Andy Shallal to city hall.” http://wapo.st/1fpEx9F
HEROIN: Of a deadly comeback, per the New York Times, “Detectives found dozens of small packages in the West Village apartment where Philip Seymour Hoffman, the actor, died on Sunday. Most were branded, some with purple letters spelling out Ace of Spades, others bearing the mark of an ace of hearts. At least five were empty, and in the trash.
“Each of the packages, which can sell for as little as $6 on the street, offered a grim window into Mr. Hoffman’s personal struggle with a resurgent addiction that ultimately, the police said, proved fatal. And the names and logos reflect a fevered underground marketing effort in a city that is awash in cheap heroin.
“Heroin seizures in New York State are up 67 percent over the last four years, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration said. Last year, the agency’s New York office seized 144 kilograms of heroin, nearly 20 percent of its seizures nationwide, valued at roughly $43 million. One recent raid, in the Bronx last week, netted 33 pounds of heroin and hundreds of thousands of branded bags, some stamped “N.F.L.,” a timely nod to the Super Bowl.” http://nyti.ms/1bYGlUJ
AL QAEDA: What’s in a name?, per the Los Angeles Times, “The general command of Al Qaeda has disavowed one of its best-known and most successful affiliates, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which is waging a brutal guerrilla war in both Middle Eastern nations. Apparently angered by the group's growing power and autonomy, Al Qaeda's Pakistani-based central command issued a blunt statement saying that the Islamic State is "not a branch of Al Qaeda," has no "organizational relationship" with Al Qaeda and its actions cannot be linked to Al Qaeda. The statement was posted on several militant websites early Monday.
“Not only did Al Qaeda not endorse the Islamic State's creation, the statement said, but it also previously ordered the group to cease operations, without success. It complained that the group was wrongly targeting fellow Muslims who did not support it. Today, the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, boasts a territorial influence that stretches from Anbar province in Iraq to the rebel-held stretches of northern Syria. Its ranks in Syria are reported to include thousands of non-Syrians, among them other Arab nationals, Europeans and Russians who have flocked to Syria to wage "jihad." The Islamic State's trademark weapon is the suicide car bomb.” http://lat.ms/1fW5m5V
DUELING DEMS: Groping for coordination, per The Hill, “A mood of anxiety hangs over President Obama and congressional Democrats as they conduct a series of meetings this week to coordinate their 2014 political and legislative agendas. While their outlook has improved since last fall, Democrats on Capitol Hill are worried the party is in danger of repeating its disastrous midterm performance of 2010 — and that this time, it could cost them the Senate.
“. . . While the White House and congressional Democrats have sought to present a unified front on raising the minimum wage and extending federal unemployment benefits, divisions over an array of issues including trade, the Keystone XL oil pipeline and how to contain Iran have repeatedly burst to the surface. That’s made it difficult to calm tempers still hot over the bumbled rollout of ObamaCare.” http://bit.ly/1cQ4elp
POLITICO PLAY: “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie acknowledged Monday that his office received a subpoena from the U.S. attorney, even as he pushed back at new allegations concerning his involvement in the George Washington Bridge traffic scandal. When asked whether his office had directly received such an order, he replied, “Yes.”
“They did that, and I understand why they did it,” he said of the subpoena. “We had already communicated to them that we’d cooperate voluntarily. They decided to send a subpoena, and that’s fine. We are complying with that in the same way we are complying with legislative subpoenas.” The remarks came during an “Ask the Governor” radio segment on New Jersey 101.5 FM. He didn’t provide a subpoena due date, but said his office would provide the needed documents, as they are doing for other ongoing investigations tied to the allegedly politically motivated lane closures at the center of the “Bridgegate” scandal.” http://politi.co/1kK5B71
MONEYBALL: Or something like that, per City Paper, “When the Washington Post reported that supporters of Vince Gray wanted to raise $1 million by the Jan. 31 disclosure deadline, Gray campaign manager Chuck Thies claimed that the seven-digit figure wasn't an official campaign aim. Realistic goal or not, it's one Gray's campaign couldn't reach, pulling in just more than half that with a still-hefty $627,061.57. Here's how Gray's and the rest of the campaigns came out in Friday's reports.” http://bit.ly/MrbNET
POTUS: Quick-hitter in Maryland, per Gazette.Net, “President Barack Obama will visit Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi on Tuesday morning to deliver remarks on the progress of the federal ConnectED Initiative. ConnectED is Obama’s proposal to provide schools and libraries with high speed digital connections, improve teacher technology training, and support and promote private-sector innovation with the goal of connecting 99 percent of students with next-generation broadband and wireless technology within five years, according to a White House fact sheet.” http://bit.ly/1k6MTsv
WRECKING BALL: Busted, per the Frederick News-Post, “Frederick County sheriff's deputies have charged a 16-year-old New Market resident with damaging 34 cars and five mailboxes belonging to 37 people. The destruction was first noticed in the Douglas Avenue area of New Market but was found to have affected multiple neighborhoods, according to a news release from the Frederick County Sheriff's Office. The damage totaled more than $10,000.” http://bit.ly/1fW92EG
MENTAL HEALTH: Watching the clock, per the Roanoke Times, “Committees in both houses of the General Assembly worked Monday to advance bills that would give mental health workers more time to find psychiatric beds in crisis situations, but the competing proposals differ on how much additional time the state should allow. A Senate subcommittee endorsed Sen. Creigh Deeds’ proposal to increase the maximum duration of emergency custody orders from six hours to 24 hours. The proposed extension is part of an omnibus mental health bill carried by Deeds, D-Bath County, whose 24-year-old son took his own life on Nov. 19, the morning after he was released from emergency custody because no psychiatric bed could be found for him.
“The Senate Finance subcommittee added an amendment to Deeds’ bill (SB 260) that would require the state’s behavioral health agency to begin working with a local community services board to locate a psychiatric bed four hours into the emergency custody period. The agency would have to provide a temporary detention bed in a state hospital if no private bed is found within eight hours. The amendment mirrors a recommendation of a gubernatorial task force that is reviewing Virginia’s mental health laws and services. The provision would ensure that people who meet the criteria for temporary detention have a bed found for them within eight hours, said Sen. George Barker, D-Fairfax County, who helped craft the amendment.” http://bit.ly/1bpV6mv
BUZZ KILL: No 12th man, this, per the Seattle Times, “Seattle Public Schools will not close school, dismiss classes early or even grant excused absences for parents who withdraw their children to attend the Seahawks Super Bowl victory parade on Wednesday.
“The district issued a written statement from Superintendent José Banda explaining the decision late Monday afternoon. “Parents who wish to take their students out of school can, but per state regulation, it will be treated as an unexcused absence,” Banda said. “While we support the team, academics must come first, and it’s important not to lose a day in the classroom.” http://bit.ly/1ePz3mS
SPORTS, BRIEFLY: Wizards beat Portland 100-90.
TRENDING ON ABC7 FACEBOOK: “Chanel Turner, the first and only African-American woman to own her own vodka line, lives in the D.C. area. Turner played at Bowie State on a basketball scholarship. She now works at the Pentagon as a web developer. But in 2009 she invested all of her savings and created Fou-Dre Vodka. ABC7's Alison Starling talked with Turner in the ongoing series, Working Women.” http://wj.la/1aUv0KH
NEWSTALK: Among today’s guests (10 a.m., NewsChannel 8) is Dr. Joxel Garcia, Director of the D.C. Department of Health, who will be asked about the rise in heroin use and the proposal to legalize marijuana in the District.