ABC7 WEATHER: Showers early then partly cloudy with highs in the upper 50s. http://wj.la/72e8x6
'GOOD MORNING WASHINGTON': Among the reports - D.C. officials will release a report on the death of Cecil Mills; Tentative truce - again - in Ukraine; much more, beginning at 4:30 a.m. M-F.
MEDICAID FLAP PUTS VIRGINIA ON THE BRINK: Of a potential government shutdown, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, "The House of Delegates on Thursday soundly rejected, and the Virginia Senate approved, a private option to Medicaid expansion, one of Gov. Terry McAuliffe's key goals. Each chamber passed respective versions of the two-year budget that begins July 1, setting up a showdown. The competing plans will go into conference, where senior lawmakers from each side will seek a compromise before the session is scheduled to adjourn March 8.
"The only surprise in the House debate over Medicaid expansion was that it occurred at all. The Senate chose not to approve its proposal as legislation that the House would kill, instead including it in its version of the two-year budget. House Republicans contended that the move unnecessarily imperils the entire budget." http://bit.ly/1mxJx3S
MEANWHILE: Of potential layoffs, per the Virginian-Pilot, ". . . Virginia's next budget cycle starts July 1. Reaching that date without an approved spending plan could force the state to shutter operations. No money could be paid out of the state treasury, said Del. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, chairman of the budget-writing House Appropriations Committee.
"Teachers and police would not get paid, the Virginia Department of Transportation would shut down, and state employees would be laid off.The state has endured budget stalemates before, most recently two years ago when legislators needed more than a month of overtime to break a logjam. But a full-on shutdown would be unprecedented." http://bit.ly/OhSIqi
MARYLAND MARIJUANA: The waiting game, per the Baltimore Sun, "The chairman of a commission set up to oversee the implementation of a medical marijuana program told lawmakers Thursday that the initiative is at least 18 months away from offering pain relief to the first patients. Even with that much time, it is by no means certain that the program will get off the ground, said Dr. Paul W. Davies, a pain relief specialist who heads the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Marijuana Commission. The panel is charged with writing the rules for the program, which limits the program to five academic medical centers.
"Davies told the House's marijuana work group that even under the best-case scenario it would take 1 1/2 to 2 years after July 1 for a medical center to set up a program and to make an arrangement for a grower to provide the marijuana. So far, he said, the state's academic medical centers have been wary about participating in the program, which was authorized by the legislature last year as Maryland's first, tentative step toward permitting the use of marijuana to alleviate medical conditions. He said the centers receive federal grants and are apprehensive they could be jeopardized in the institutions participate." http://bsun.md/1fgZfwm
FRANCE AND THE PURPLE LINE: And the Holocaust, per the Washington Post, "The French government has begun negotiating with the State Department over paying reparations to America's Holocaust survivors who were deported to Nazi death camps in French trains a decades-old controversy now surrounding a French company bidding on Maryland's $2.2?billion light-rail Purple Line project. Stuart Eizenstat, a Washington lawyer serving as special adviser to Secretary of State John F. Kerry on Holocaust issues, confirmed Thursday that he and several State Department officials met with French officials Feb. 6 in Paris, an extension of informal discussions over the past year.
". . . The question of how much the government-owned French railway owes to U.S. Holocaust survivors has come to a head in Maryland. Legislation introduced Jan. 31 in the state's General Assembly would block a subsidiary of the French railway from winning a contract for the proposed 16-mile Purple Line until the railway compensates U.S. victims. If approved, it would be the first state law to ban companies with Holocaust ties from receiving U.S. government contracts until reparations are paid. The rail company subsidiary, Keolis, has already won nearly $3 billion in U.S. contracts." http://wapo.st/1h3c1Nc
TRUCE: So they claim, per the New York Times, "KIEV, Ukraine The government of President Viktor F. Yanukovych announced an agreement on Friday to end days of bloodshed after all-night talks with protesters, Russian representatives and the foreign ministers of Germany, Poland and France. "Negotiations on the settlement of the political crisis in Ukraine between President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych, leaders of the opposition, E.U. and Russian representatives have finished," a statement from the president's office said.
"The parties agreed to initial an agreement to settle the crisis and the signing was expected on Friday morning, it said. There were no immediate details of what the negotiations had acheived and there was no comment from the other participants in the talks. The statement from Mr. Yanukovych's office said that the talks had been "very difficult." There was no immediate confirmation from European officials or protest leaders." http://nyti.ms/1mgPxKJ
BRIDGEGATE: Changing the subject, per the Bergen (N.J.) Record, "Governor Christie's national reputation was built in part by his performances at his town-hall-style events and boosted by his handling of Superstorm Sandy. He returned to that stage and to that topic Thursday in what appeared to be a calculated effort to restore his image as members of his inner circle are under investigation for their involvement in politically motivated lane closures at the George Washington Bridge.
"Christie worked to put the scandal behind him inside the VFW hall in the Port Monmouth section of Middletown where he was welcomed with a standing ovation and applause. He didn't hold back, using the salty language that boosted his reputation as a blunt talker, even going as far as calling the Federal Emergency Management Agency "the new F word," and criticizing it for refusing to participate in the state's insurance mediation program." http://bit.ly/1d8LkTh
CUTS SCUTTLED: Of Social Security, per The Hill, "Yielding to pressure from congressional Democrats, President Obama is abandoning a proposed cut to Social Security benefits in his election-year budget. The president's budget request for fiscal 2015, which is due out March 4, will not call for a switch to a new formula that would limit cost-of-living increases in the entitlement program, the White House said Thursday.
". . .Obama last year proposed the new formula for calculating benefits as an overture to Republicans toward a "grand bargain" on the debt. The White House said the offer to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) "remains on the table for whenever the Republicans decide they want to engage in a serious discussion," but that the concession would not be included in the new budget request." http://bit.ly/1nR1Ooe
POLITICO PLAY: "The curtain rose this week on a new era of late-night TV altering the terrain for politicians who frequent the shows and complicating life for Republicans, who have lost their most comfortable seat in front of the camera. "The whole landscape's about to change," Arsenio Hall, the recently reincarnated late-night host, said in an interview. "Jay [Leno] going home is going to change it for a lot of people."
"Jimmy Fallon replaced Leno who was seen as the one late-night host with a welcome mat out for the GOP and moved "The Tonight Show" back to New York City after decades in Hollywood. Beyond the location, expect another big departure from Leno: Not nearly as many heavy-hitting political jokes or guests." http://politi.co/1nSCfmD
WHERE'S MY MAIL?: Good question, per ABC7WJLA, "There are more reports of local residents not receiving their mail because postal carriers are being told to end their day at 6 p.m. sharp. The issue is impacting hundreds of households across Northwest D.C. and Montgomery County. Some residents are missing medication, packages with valuables, tax documents, and even college acceptance letters.
"Inconsistency is the consistent thing about this neighborhood," Laurie Gross pronounced. Gross, who lives along the 6000 block of Kirby Road in Bethesda's Whittier Woods neighborhood, hasn't seen a single piece of mail since Wednesday Feb. 12." http://wj.la/1hzK6rK
MURIEL BOWSER: She receives a nod, per City Paper, "The Washington Post editorial board endorsed Ward 4 councilmember Muriel Bowser in the mayor's race Thursday night, meaning the city will get another chance to find out if the Post endorsement means anything in District elections.
"Bowser's campaign, at least, thinks it means a lot. Delighted by the endorsement, which came out during the Woman's National Democratic Club forum, Bowser campaign manager Bo Shuff scrolled through the article on his phone to quote favorite passages. "It ends any question about how many people are in this race in a competitive way," Shuff says." http://bit.ly/1fEDocY
THE BREACH: "How does this happen?" per Gazette.Net, "The news of the cyber attack on University of Maryland student records led to feelings of shock and apprehension at the Shady Grove campus Thursday afternoon. Shady Grove student and Gaithersburg resident Romain Asina was on his way home from work when he received the email from university President Wallace Loh describing how the university fell victim to a "sophisticated computer security attack."
"I didn't believe it at first," said the junior biological sciences major. "This is such an established university. I thought, 'How does this happen?'" Loh informed students that everyone affected would receive a free 12 months of credit monitoring, an idea that Asina and other students appreciated, but felt was not enough." http://bit.ly/1oZP2XF
FAKE GOLF: Or something like that, per the Loudoun Times-Mirror, "TopGolf, a Dallas, Texas-based golf entertainment complex, filed a site plan application Feb. 11 to build a 65,000-square-foot complex in Loudoun County. Initial plans are to build the facility at the intersection of Loudoun County Parkway and Route 7, across the street from One Loudoun, according to Zach Shor, the director of real estate for TopGolf.
"According to Shor, the facility would be "98 percent" similar to current facilities in Houston and Austin. The amenities in Houston and Austin include: three levels of tees with 102 hitting bays; a full-service restaurant and bars; a rooftop terrace with fire pit and cabanas; more than 230 HD TVs and nearly 3,000 square feet of private event space." http://bit.ly/Mg1cMG
TRENDING ON ABC7 FACEBOOK: "Alexandria police returned to the neighborhood where a music teacher was killed two weeks ago. They're passing out sketches of the suspect and looking for any clues from the day Ruthanne Lodato was shot." http://wj.la/1dTE4yS
NEWSTALK: Among today's guests (10 a.m., NewsChannel 8) is Jill Homan, a local Republican activist who's beginning an outreach campaign to America's cities, part of an effort to make the GOP more competitive.