DAYBREAK DAILY: Virginia adresses flaws in mental health system

ABC7 WEATHER: Overcast with highs in the mid 40s, followed by a steep P.M. drop in temps.

‘GOOD MORNING WASHINGTON’: Among the reports – - Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker to announce a reduction in crime in the county; When Montgomery County Public School students return to classes today, the Montgomery County Police Department will begin a new enforcement program targeting motorists who pass stopped school buses; much more, beginning at 4:30 a.m. M-F.

MENTAL HEALTH: Lawmaker introduces bills, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “The legislative push has begun for changing Virginia’s laws on holding people involuntarily for evaluation and treatment in psychiatric emergencies. Del. Joseph A. Yost, R-Montgomery, has introduced three bills to lengthen the deadlines of orders to hold people in emergency custody or temporary detention, as well as allowing a temporary detention order to be issued before a bed is secured in a psychiatric facility.

“All three proposals aim to fill a gap in Virginia’s mental health system that became painfully apparent when state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath, was attacked Nov. 19 by his son, Austin C. “Gus” Deeds, who then killed himself. Gus Deeds had been released from emergency custody just 13 hours earlier.”

IT’S ALL RELATIVE: Pay, that is, per the Baltimore Sun, “Much has been made recently about proposed pay increases for some Maryland’s politicians, but even the highest-earning elected officials don’t come close to the top of the state-employee income scale.

“Gov. Martin O’Malley’s 2012 income of $150,000 was just a fraction of more than $2 million that Terps football coach Randy Edsall and men’s basketball coach Mark Turgeon each pulled in, according to an updated state salary database made available by Maryland officials under a Public Information Act request.”

SABATO SLAMMED: Of JFK, per the Charlottesville Daily Progress, “They’ve tolerated taunts and accusations by conspiracy theorists and movie producers, but they draw the line at respected university educators.

“Two former staff members of the Warren Commission, which investigated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, say University of Virginia professor Larry J. Sabato’s book on Kennedy sullies and besmirches the commission as incompetent and biased, even though Sabato reaches the same conclusion as the commission did.”

DEADLY RETALIATION: Wow, per the Washington Post, “Kevin Lewis Crouch walked into a tow lot in Northeast Washington on Tuesday afternoon and asked about a green car. But D.C. police said the 22-year-old man quickly pulled a gun on the tow truck driver who was trying to help him and demanded money. The driver began to run but tripped and fell, police said, and Crouch struck him twice in the head with the butt of his gun. The driver then heaved his wallet against a fence in the lot on Kenilworth Avenue.

“As Crouch went to grab the wallet, police said, the driver climbed into his white Isuzu tow truck and then fatally struck his assailant. On Wednesday, the victim of the armed robbery became a criminal suspect, as police charged Corey D. Stoddard, 35, of Northeast Washington, with ¬second-degree murder while armed, his tow truck being the weapon.”

NYC MAYOR: Not the same as the old mayor, per the New York Times, “Claiming his place as the 109th mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio delivered an inaugural address on Wednesday that focused on the issue of inequality, promising that the attention he gave to the subject when he was running for office was not merely campaign rhetoric.

“Outside City Hall, in front of an audience that included members of his family, luminaries like Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton and hundreds of ordinary New Yorkers, Mayor de Blasio spoke of the city’s history of embracing liberal causes, and he laid out a mayoralty that emphasized social and economic justice.”

WEED FOR SALE: Come on in, per the Denver Post, “In a historic swirl of commerce and cannabis, the world's first stores licensed to sell marijuana legally to anyone 21 or older opened in Colorado on Wednesday. From Telluride to Denver, thousands of people cheerfully stood in lines for hours to buy legal marijuana after presenting nothing more than identification.

“Marijuana activists hailed the day as a watershed in their effort to overturn anti-cannabis laws. Store owners — several of whom said the turnout exceeded even their own ambitious expectations — feared running out of supply. Police reported no problems with the crowds, and government officials marveled at the calm.”

BIG BUCKS: Behind closed doors, per The Hill, “Congress is set to unveil a giant spending bill next week that staff for appropriators have been preparing on a near daily basis throughout the holiday break. Aides say progress on the $1 trillion, 12-part omnibus legislation has been better than expected at the subcommittee level, and that their goal remains to pass the bill through both chambers by Jan. 16 to prevent a government shutdown.

“The secretive process has members anticipating rushed votes when they return next week, as congressional leaders race the clock. It’s unclear whether top leaders of the House and Senate spending panels will return to Washington to negotiate final details of the deal before Monday. Aides say that decision depends on how much progress staff can make.”

POLITICO PLAY: “On a recent snowy day in the Washington suburb of Tysons Corner, Va., some of the religious right’s wealthiest backers and top operatives gathered at the Ritz Carlton to plot their entry into the conservative civil war. Their plan: take a page out of the playbooks of Karl Rove and the Koch brothers by raising millions of dollars, coordinating their political spending and assiduously courting megadonors.

“Plans in the works range from aggressive super PAC spending in primaries against Republicans deemed squishy on social issues, to holding a donor conference in Normandy, France, tied to the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. It’s all geared towards elevating the place of social issues like abortion and gay marriage in conservative politics. They’ve been largely relegated to the sidelines as the business wing of the GOP establishment wages a bitter and expensive struggle against the tea party for the soul of the Republican Party. The focus has been on fiscal issues such as Obamacare and the budget, while both sides have steered away from social issues they deem too divisive.”

TRAVEL TIME: Of “good stuff,” per the Frederick News-Post, “Maryland transportation officials say big things are coming in 2014. Due to revenue from the state’s gas tax increases, the State Highway Administration was able to green-light several projects that had been on hold for lack of funding. “There is a lot of good stuff coming up,” spokesman Charlie Gischlar said, adding that gas tax funds have “allowed us to move a lot of projects forward, not only in Frederick County, but throughout the state.”

“One of the state’s biggest undertakings in the county, the U.S. 15/Monocacy Boulevard interchange, will be in the engineering stage until 2015. The $82 million project is funded for construction after that, however. In Frederick, the SHA is expected to wrap up the Motter Avenue bridge replacement project, totaling $14 million, in the fall. The agency will also build a new park and ride at Md. 75 and I-70 in late summer.”

MEANWHILE: In Virginia, per the Loudoun Times-Mirror, “So many subplots in the battle of the Bi-County Parkway developed throughout 2013, it became hard to keep track of all of them after a while -- from GOP infighting over the road to the Virginia Department of Transportation hiring an outside public relations firm to smooth over tensions with the western Prince William County community.

“However, a town hall meeting at Bull Run Middle School in Gainesville hosted by state Del. Tim Hugo (R-40th) and Gainesville District Supervisor Pete Candland (R) changed the dynamics of the fight and directly affected legislators' policies.”

CLIP: And save, per Gazette.Net, “In about six months, Maryland primary voters will hit the polls to narrow the fields for all state- and county-elected offices in the 2014 gubernatorial election. Maryland’s primary will fall on June 24, three months earlier than past cycles when the primary was held in September. Early voting will run June 12-19. Maryland’s general election will be Nov. 4. Candidates have until Feb. 25 to file with the Maryland Board of Elections but with the earlier primary, most races already boast crowded fields.”

SPORTS, BRIEFLY: Wizards lose 87-78 against Dallas.

TRENDING ON ABC7 FACEBOOK: “Lorraine Begazo and her twin brother, Brandon, were welcomed to Washington in two separate years! The baby girl was born at 11:58 p.m. on Tuesday, and three minutes later - in the first minute of 2014 - the boy came too. Everyone is resting comfortably.”

NEWSTALK: Among today’s guests (10 a.m., NewsChannel 8) are Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who will be asked about unemployment benefits for the long-time jobless, which have just expired, as well as the Supreme Court ruling delaying a portion of the Affordable Care Act. Then, AAA's Lon Anderson will be asked about 2013's transportation highlights and lowlights, the toll hike for motorists on the Dulles Toll Road and distracted driving.

--Skip Wood