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DAYBREAK DAILY: McAuliffe vetoes gun-rights bill

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ABC7 WEATHER: Mostly cloudy with light rain at times and highs in the low 40s. http://wj.la/72e8x6

‘GOOD MORNING WASHINGTON’: Among the reports – Still more scrutiny of D.C. Fire’s handling of Mills’ incident, with hearing today; much more, beginning at 4:30 a.m. M-F.

REJECTED: Of a gun-rights bill, per the Virginian-Pilot, “Gov. Terry McAuliffe's first use of the veto pen - on a gun rights bill he previously sought to weaken with an amendment - is more symbolic than substantive. While its effect doesn't change the law on storing guns inside a private vehicle, it's a clear reminder to McAuliffe's gun control base that he's in their corner.

“He vetoed Del. Ben Cline's HB962, intended to clarify that gun owners without concealed handgun permits can keep the weapons in their vehicles if they're secured in compartments that aren't locked. McAuliffe considers that broadened definition a public safety risk. An amendment from McAuliffe had required storage of weapons in locked containers but was rejected by the Republican-run House of Delegates earlier this month. Cline, R-Rockbridge County, has said the legislation is necessary to make it clear that a storage container needn't be locked to comply with the law.” http://bit.ly/1cWWoZb

MARYLAND’S CORE: It’s a tricky deal, per the Baltimore Sun, “Maryland has faced several challenges in fulfilling its $250 million promise to overhaul the way it educates students and evaluates educators, the U.S. Department of Education reported Wednesday. In a report on the state's progress in reaching goals in the third year of the federal Race to the Top program, the department identified the greatest obstacles: implementing the Common Core standards, creating new teacher and principal evaluations, and building new data systems.

“The department assessed progress in 11 states and the District of Columbia that were among the first to sign on to Race to the Top, a $4.35 billion program created by President Barack Obama to encourage school reforms. The states promised to implement federally recommended changes in exchange for massive infusions of cash. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement that Maryland made significant progress in the third year, and "there are encouraging signs of this investment's impact." http://bsun.md/1gzsIMz

FOI: Time for a tune-up, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “The last time the state’s Freedom of Information Act was rewritten, the use of email was still relatively new. This year, state lawmakers thought it was time for another look. The General Assembly passed a resolution this session directing the Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council to study exemptions in the open records statute, consider their applicability or appropriateness, and weigh whether they should be scrapped.

“The council will spend the next two years delving into the statute for the first time since the late 1990s and into 2000. “It’s been 14 years since we’ve taken a holistic look at the law to see some of the exemptions — do they apply anymore?” said Maria J.K. Everett, executive director of the FOIA Council. Beyond looking for exemptions, the council will have a chance to review the statute with the newest methods of communication in mind, including social media. “It probably needs its decade check-up,” Everett said.” http://bit.ly/1eR2ztc

NAVY YARD SHOOTINGS: A scathing report, per the Washington Post, “The Defense Department is likely to reduce the number of employees who hold security clearances by at least 10 percent and has vowed to overhaul the way it screens personnel, officials said Tuesday as they released the results of several inquiries into the Sept. 16 mass shooting at the Navy Yard.

“The reviews offered a damning assessment of the department’s ability to monitor the trustworthiness and reliability of a workforce that grew exponentially in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. They also made clear that the Pentagon has issued security clearances to many employees and contractors who are not required to access classified information in the course of their jobs.” http://wapo.st/1gxZWMx

UKRAINE: The latest, per the New York Times, “A month ago, most Americans could not have found Crimea on a map. But its lightning-quick takeover by Moscow has abruptly redrawn the geopolitical atlas and may have decisively ended a 25-year period of often tumultuous yet also constructive relations between the United States and Russia.

“Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Washington and Moscow had struggled to replace their Cold War rivalry with a new form of partnership, one that was tested by crisis after crisis but that endured in its own peculiar way. After each rupture, whether over Kosovo or Iraq or Georgia, came another reset that put the two powers back onto an uneasy equilibrium.

“The decision by President Vladimir V. Putin to snatch Crimea away from Ukraine, celebrated in a defiant treaty-signing ceremony in the Kremlin on Tuesday, threatens to usher in a new, more dangerous era. If it is not the renewed Cold War that some fear, it seems likely to involve a sustained period of confrontation and alienation that will be hard to overcome. The next reset, if there ever is one, for the moment appears far off and far-fetched.” http://nyti.ms/POuswE

MEDAL OF HONOR: Of overdue ribbons, per the Associated Press, “They were heroes who didn't get their due. On Tuesday, 24 mostly ethnic or minority U.S. soldiers who performed bravely under fire in three of the nation's wars finally received the Medal of Honor that the government concluded should have been awarded a long time ago.

“The servicemen - Hispanics, Jews and African-Americans - were identified following a congressionally mandated review to ensure that eligible recipients of the country's highest recognition for valor were not bypassed due to prejudice. Only three of the 24 were alive for President Barack Obama to drape the medals and ribbons around their necks.” http://apne.ws/1qS1wBC

TOUGH TALK: From the GOP, per The Hill, “Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Tuesday predicted a "tsunami" election for the GOP this fall. But Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) quickly rebutted her Republican counterpart's optimism heading into the midterms. Facing a hostile electorate and a president with dwindling approval ratings, she nevertheless insisted her party's tech advantage coupled with the GOP's tendency to nominate flawed candidates would help her party hold the line in the midterms.

“Each party leader's remarks came a year to the day after the RNC released its 2012 election autopsy report, titled the "Growth and Opportunity Project," which outlined a series of recommendations from an RNC panel to correct the problems that led to the GOP’s unforeseen losses in 2012. And they marked, for Republicans, a decidedly more favorable landscape and optimistic tone for the party’s chances this cycle. A devastating special election loss for Democrats in a bellwether Florida district last week, along with President Obama's persistently low popularity and nagging difficulties with ObamaCare, have Republicans predicting monumental wins this November.” http://bit.ly/1nCZVR9

POLITICO PLAY: “Here’s the dirty secret about the House Republicans’ efforts to replace Obamacare: They haven’t even decided if they will hold a vote. Not to mention, the House GOP would still have to repeal Obamacare in order to implement whatever alternative health care plan they release, which isn’t going to happen as long as President Barack Obama is sitting in the Oval Office.

“In the next few weeks and months, the House Republican Conference — with Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) playing the key role — will spend lots of time talking about crafting its own health care plan, one that would be positioned as an alternative to the 2010 Affordable Care Act. But with a Republican alternative to Obamacare come serious practical and political problems that could prevent the legislation from even getting to the House floor. A critical midterm election is just a few months away. Public opinion is firmly against Obama’s health care law, and releasing specific bills could take the focus off the Democrats’ squirming.” http://politi.co/1paasPh  

ENDORSEMENT: Shocker, per City Paper, “Mayor-for-Life Marion Barry will endorse Vince Gray for another term. The announcement, which starts at 1 p.m., will be held at Matthews Memorial Baptist in Barry's Ward 8.

“With the endorsement of Ward 7's Yvette Alexander locked up since the day he announced, the endorsement from the Ward 8 councilmember will give Gray support from both of the east-of-the-Anacostia-River councilmembers. Over the weekend, Gray's campaign circulated a video in which Barry urges people to come meet Gray. Barry had also supported Gray in the 2010 election.” http://bit.ly/1gO7ICG

DOES THE END JUSTIFY THE MEANS?: That’s the question, per Gazette.Net, “Guns drawn, police paced between stopped cars on southbound Interstate 270, a signal to trapped motorists that this was no ordinary morning traffic jam. Minutes before, a Rockville bank was robbed. A GPS indicator in the bag the teller handed the robbers let police know they were headed south on I-270 and were near Tuckerman Lane.

“For police, the next decision seemed like an obvious one: Shut the interstate down, and catch the suspects. So on Tuesday, March 11, Maryland State Police’s Rockville barrack made the call to shut down I-270 just south of Montrose Road to just north of the Interstate 495 split. Police said the decision paid off. Three people were arrested. Weapons and nearly $13,000 in cash were recovered. And most importantly, police said, no one got hurt.

“But some people question whether the shutdown was worth trapping motorists with a group of suspected robbers with guns. A letter to the Montgomery County Council called the strategy “Hollywood-style” policing. Other complaints reached council members through social media.” http://bit.ly/NrtnbZ

GROWL: Or something like that, per the Frederick News-Post, “Representatives of the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo and several similar establishments have successfully negotiated changes to a wild-animal bill that could have prevented some from replacing their bears and large cats. The House of Delegates and state Senate have both passed bills that initially raised concerns among zookeepers. However, with the amendments, lawmakers say they don’t think the proposal will force Catoctin Zoo near Thurmont to scale back its programs.” http://bit.ly/1pa9LFJ

SPORTS, BRIEFLY: Wizards lose 117-111 against Sacramento; Caps beat Anaheim 3-2.

TRENDING ON ABC7 FACEBOOK: “Snow removal costs have now put some local areas millions of dollars over budget. D.C. spent $8.7 million, $2.5 million over budget; Howard County spent $4.3 million, $3.1 million more than anticipated; and Montgomery County has extreme sticker shock after dropping $28 million -- $18.1 million over budget.” http://wj.la/1nBRsO2

NEWSTALK: Among today’s topics (10 a.m., NewsChannel 8) -- a D.C. Council at-large debate featuring incumbent Anita Bonds and challengers Nate Bennett-Fleming, John Settles and Pedro Rubio.

--Skip Wood

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