DAYBREAK DAILY: Stafford's Howell again decries Medicaid expansion

ABC7 WEATHER: Mostly cloudy with highs in the upper 30s.

‘GOOD MORNING WASHINGTON’: Among the reports – University of Maryland partners with cyber-security firm over files breach; D.C. lobbyist on anti-gay crusade; much more, beginning at 4:30 a.m. M-F.

JUST SAY NO: To Medicaid expansion, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “Virginia’s biggest business organization has embraced a private option plan for extending health coverage to hundreds of thousands of uninsured Virginians by using federal money intended for expanding the state’s Medicaid program. But opponents led by House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, answered immediately with a news conference that featured the National Federation of Independent Business, an organization that led the legal fight against the federal health care law and has about 5,500 business members in Virginia.

"The Virginia Chamber of Commerce presented an 11-point proposal Monday that builds on the Marketplace Virginia plan included in the Senate budget as it hurtles on a collision course with the House of Delegates, which is resolutely opposed to any form of Medicaid expansion. The state chamber, with 16,000 members and affiliates representing 30,000 businesses, put forth what it called “the business case” for taking about $1.7 billion a year in federal funds under the Affordable Care Act to provide coverage through a commercial, managed-care insurance marketplace.”

JUST SAY YES: To Medicaid expansion, per the Washington Post, “Gov. Terry McAuliffe hit the road to sell Medicaid expansion Monday, touring a Northern Virginia hospital to make the human and business case for insuring more poor and working people — and to pressure House Republicans who have pledged to block the effort. Launching a two-week media blitz, McAuliffe (D) sharply rapped the GOP-led House of Delegates for its role in the current impasse. He told doctors and administrators at Inova Loudoun Hospital that as a businessman and a person of deep faith, he finds Republicans’ refusal to expand coverage nonsensical economically and “very disturbing” morally.

“McAuliffe pointed to the 400,000 additional people who would qualify for Medicaid in Virginia under the Affordable Care Act, 70 percent of whom are in households where at least one person has a job. Under a plan written by moderate Republican Sen. John C. Watkins (Powhatan) — and rejected by the House — uninsured people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level would quality for coverage. (The poverty level for a family of four is $23,850.) The proposal would use $1.7 billion a year in federal taxes collected in Virginia under Obamacare to buy private health insurance for those individuals.”

GAY MARRIAGE: And so it goes, per the Virginian-Pilot, “As expected, a Norfolk federal judge's decision declaring Virginia's gay-marriage ban unconstitutional was appealed Monday. An appeal on behalf of Norfolk Circuit Court Clerk George Schaefer, one of the defendants, was filed shortly after U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen entered her final order in the case. Schaefer is represented by David Oakley, a Virginia Beach attorney.

“A few minutes later, Virginia Solicitor General Stuart Raphael filed an appeal on behalf of another defendant, State Registrar of Vital Records Janet Rainey. That means arguments over Virginia's constitutional prohibition of same-sex marriage, the first in the Southeast to be overthrown in court, will be heard by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The case could result in a landmark ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court resolving the gay-marriage issue for the nation.”

MEANWHILE: A big two cents worth, per the New York Times, “Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Monday injected the Obama administration into the emotional and politicized debate over the future of state same-sex marriage bans, declaring in an interview that state attorneys general are not obligated to defend laws that they believe are discriminatory. Mr. Holder was careful not to encourage his state counterparts to disavow their own laws, but said that officials who have carefully studied bans on gay marriage could refuse to defend them.

“Six state attorneys general — all Democrats — have refused to defend bans on same-sex marriage, prompting criticism from Republicans who say they have a duty to stand behind their state laws, even if they do not agree with them. It is highly unusual for the United States attorney general to advise his state counterparts on how and when to refuse to defend state laws. But Mr. Holder said when laws touch on core constitutional issues like equal protection, an attorney general should apply the highest level of scrutiny before reaching a decision on whether to defend it. He said the decision should never be political or based on policy objections.”

THEN THERE’S THIS: Really?, per ABC7—WJLA, “As Michael Sam demonstrated his athletic abilities at the NFL Combine Monday morning with hopes of making history in professional football, a D.C.-based lobbyist is generating his own headlines with a proposal to ban gays from joining the league. Jack Burkman, CEO of Burkman LLC, said the legislation he is drafting has already amassed political support. But during a live interview on NewsChannel8’s Capital Insider Monday night, Burkman declined to name any lawmakers who would sponsor or support it.

“Today is the kick off so you’re catching me on day one,” he said. “We expect to have a lot of support. I’ll give you the projection. Within three weeks, within 20 days, our projections indicate we’ll have 36 Members in the House, 6 in the Senate.” Burkman said the legislation was triggered by news of Michael Sam announcing his sexual orientation. “We are losing our decency as a nation,” Burkman said in a statement, promoting the proposal. “Imagine your son being forced to shower with a gay man. That’s a horrifying prospect for every mom in the country. What in the world has this nation come to?”

MEANWHILE: Opinion per the Post’s Thomas Boswell, “In recent decades, most of us have watched our workplace became more tolerant, less biased, more sensitive to differences of ethnicity, gender, age, religion and sexual orientation. American laws changed to reflect our greater enlightenment as a society. Some still resist out of anger, ignorance or evil. But, in our time as in most ages, we’ve watched incremental progress arrive.

"Industries change at different paces. But the NFL lags by a generation. Pro football needs to transform its workplace and finally join the rest of us. If the experience of millions of us, including my memories of the turmoil in newspaper sports departments 40 years ago, is an indication of what’s in store, the NFL workplace will shift as much in the next five years as it has in the last 50."

THERE’S PLACE FOR THAT: But not in school, per the Roanoke Times, “Gov. Terry McAuliffe will veto a bill aimed at protecting the rights of students to express religious viewpoints on public school grounds if the legislation reaches his desk, his office said Monday. A McAuliffe spokesman outlined the governor’s opposition to the bill after it cleared a House of Delegates committee Monday morning. The legislation, which passed the Senate last month, should come up for a vote in the full House later this week.

“He’s very concerned about the constitutionality of the bill, but he’s also concerned about the unintended consequences,” McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy said. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Bill Carrico, R-Grayson County, said the veto threat is premature. “I would love to know what his reasons are, to tell the media and tell everyone else he’s going to veto it and not even talk to me about it,” Carrico said.”

TROOP CUTS: Effects on Maryland, per the Baltimore Sun, “The Army would shrink to its lowest troop levels since just before World War II under a budget proposed Monday by the Obama administration that seeks to downsize the Pentagon in ways that could have a significant impact on service members and contractors in Maryland. The proposed cuts reflect changing fortunes in the once-sacrosanct defense budget. Congress has ordered nearly $500 billion in defense spending cuts over the next decade, causing a harsh re-evaluation of military needs as the nation closes out the punishing ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Some of the changes are likely to face stiff resistance in Congress. If approved, the proposal could reduce the number of service members who work in Maryland and potentially affect some of the state's largest military contractors. Maryland is home to nearly 28,000 active military employees and tens of thousands of additional active and reserve service members who work in the state but may live elsewhere, according to state government data.”

TROOP CUTS: Effects on Virginia, per the Daily Press, “President Obama's upcoming defense budget raises the possibility of losing an aircraft carrier in the coming years while requiring Hampton Roads to face another military base-closing commission. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel discussed the spending plan Monday in advance of its March 4 rollout. It will face intense scrutiny from defense-minded members of Congress, including those in Hampton Roads, where 43 percent of the gross regional product is tied to defense spending.

“This budget seeks to reshape the military after 13 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Hagel made it clear that times are changing. He proposed shrinking the Army to pre-World War II levels and cutting some military benefits. The cuts carry greater risk, but they also ensure the fighting force will be fully trained and equipped, he said. Aircraft carriers are of particular concern in Hampton Roads, home to Naval Station Norfolk, the only East Coast carrier port, and Newport News Shipbuilding, the sole maker and maintainer of the U.S. nuclear-powered carrier fleet.”

WHITE HOUSE SUMMIT: Or something like that, per The Hill, “President Obama will meet with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) Tuesday morning in the Oval Office, according to the White House. Both administration and congressional aides were coy about what the leaders would discuss, saying only there were a broad set of topics on the agenda.

“But the meeting comes just a week before the president is set to officially unveil his budget proposal, and ahead of a narrow window for legislative work before members of Congress head back to their districts to campaign. The president is likely to lobby the House Speaker on a number of his economic priorities, including immigration reform, his proposed $10.10 federal minimum wage, and extending emergency unemployment benefits that lapsed late last year.”

POLITICO PLAY: “California activist Jim Steyer is following his billionaire little brother into national politics — he’s launching a political advocacy group, and a super PAC may follow. Steyer, 57, a children’s advocate with close ties to Hillary Clinton, hasn’t quite figured out how to stage his debut as a major player. But he promises it will be memorable.

“You don’t bring a squirt gun to a fight where the other guys have AK-47s,” he said in a telephone interview. “I will tell you this: We’re fearless.” Younger brother Tom Steyer, 56, splashed onto the national radar last fall with huge investments in the Virginia governor’s race that helped boost Democrat Terry McAuliffe to a slim victory. He recently pledged to spend at least $100 million on the fall campaign to knock out candidates who don’t share his views on the urgency of combating global warming.”

ORANGE: Juice, per City Paper, “So far in the mayor's race, Vince Gray has won nearly all of the announced union endorsements. Just today (Monday), the construction unions in the D.C. Building Trades Council endorsed his run for re-election. But now Vincent Orange has a union behind him: the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400.

“In a press release, Local 400 president Mark Federici calls Orange "a fighter for D.C.'s working families." Federici's union, which claims 40,000 members in the D.C. area, represents many of the grocery store workers who pushed for the failed Large Retailer Accountability Act that Orange supported. Federici praised Orange for backing the bill and the successful minimum wage increase to $11.50 an hour.”

MURDER AND MONEY: Mix and match, per the Frederick News-Post, “A forensic accountant and former IRS senior special agent testified Monday about Michael Anthony Stahlnecker’s finances before and after the death of John Patrick Ryan, whom he is accused of killing. Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess, who is prosecuting the case, has said that Stahlnecker had personal and financial motives to kill Ryan, with whom he was running a cross-country marijuana trafficking operation at the time.

“But the former agent, Jules Dorner, testified that more than $1.7 million was deposited into Stahlnecker’s Computer Power Cabling Corp. bank account in 2012 and 2013. About $23,000 in cash, or about 0.01 percent of the total, was deposited over the two years, Dorner testified. Most of the deposits were payments from businesses in Manhattan, where Computer Power Cabling worked to restore power after Hurricane Sandy, his account analysis showed.”

DISTRICTWOOD: Or whatever, per DCist, “This weekend, Hollywood A-listers will be gearing up for the Oscars—that annual celebration of films that you thought were pretty good, but definitely not as good as that one indie flick starring that guy from that one show. But before suiting up and strutting down the red carpet, actors Ben Affleck and Seth Rogen (of Daredevil and Green Hornet fame, respectively) will make a brief detour to D.C. in order to testify at two different Senate panels this week.

“. . . Rogen will be in town to testify before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee in a hearing on the economic impact of Alzheimer's research in the U.S. . . . And on the same day, Affleck will also be on the Hill testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a hearing about the Democratic Republic of Congo. Affleck—who has a history of advocacy in the Congo, and founded the Eastern Congo Initiative—will discuss the country's declining economic, development, and social status, and raise awareness of the country's problems along with a panel of experts.”

NO BIG DEAL: As such. . .per Gazette.Net, “Supporters of a bill that would change Maryland law to hide convictions for some nonviolent offenses believe it could be a way to help minorities in Montgomery County. A bill sponsored by Montgomery Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Dist. 20) of Silver Spring would allow people convicted of nonviolent offenses such as disorderly conduct, trespassing or misdemeanor theft to ask a court to shield their record from public view three years after they complete their sentence.

“The legislation was discussed at a Saturday forum on the “State of Black Montgomery” in Silver Spring. The event was organized by the African-American Democratic Club of Montgomery County and the Montgomery County Young Democrats. The forum included panels on topics such as increasing business opportunities for blacks, empowering and engaging black youth and increasing political participation among blacks.”

TRENDING ON ABC7 FACEBOOK: “There are thousands of feral cats in D.C., and winters like this one can be deadly for them. So cat lovers are trying to help, making do-it-yourself shelters. Styles range from modern art to Native American to space age -- all designed to keep out the cold and the number of stray cats down.”

NEWSTALK: Among today’s guests (10 a.m., NewsChannel 8) is former Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan, who will talk about his bid to win back his old job.

--Skip Wood