Dec 29, 2018

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

🏈 Get up! It's game day! College football's championship matchup (Jan. 7) will be decided by today's back-t0-back semifinals on ESPN:

  • Clemson vs. Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl (Arlington, Texas), 4 p.m. ET.
  • Alabama vs. Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl (Miami Gardens), 8 p.m. Roll Tide!
1 big thing: Sin could shine in 2019

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Don't bet against sin industries like marijuana and sports betting in 2019, even if the broader economy and markets stumble, Axios' Dan Primack tells me:

  • Industries usually develop organically, including all the layers of infrastructure and logistics. These won't. Instead, they're being born into adulthood by rapidly-expanding legalization.
  • As a sign of high times, former Speaker John Boehner and former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld this year joined the board of a cannabis company, Acreage Holdings. Boehner invoked the need for veterans to access the drug legally.
  • And the farm bill signed this month legalizes hemp at the federal level.
  • Be smart: Lots of these companies will fail. But there will be some analysts who can't see the growth for the growing pains.

The legal marijuana industry had a banner year in 2018, as the global market exploded and cannabis pushed its way into the financial and cultural mainstream, Gillian Flaccus ("a member of the AP's marijuana beat team") writes:

  • "Liberal California became the largest legal U.S. marketplace, conservative Utah and Oklahoma embraced medical marijuana, and the U.S. East Coast got its first commercial pot shops" in Massachusetts in November.
  • "Canada ushered in broad legalization, and Mexico's Supreme Court set the stage for that country to follow."
  • "U.S. drug regulators approved the first marijuana-based pharmaceutical to treat kids with a form of epilepsy, and billions of investment dollars poured into cannabis companies. Even main street brands like Coca-Cola said they are considering joining the party."

"A majority of U.S. states have legalized marijuana to varying degrees, and U.S. companies are scrambling to get in on the action," the AP Markets Team adds:

  • "Both the NYSE and Nasdaq saw their first purely cannabis companies list shares in 2018. But stocks in the companies that produce and sell marijuana have largely underperformed the overall market this year."

An exception to the trend, per the Boston Globe: "New Hampshire’s libertarian streak has long been a source of pride for residents, but for cannabis users, that self-image isn’t living up to reality. With pot legalization sweeping through New England, New Hampshire is now an island of prohibition."

  • "Unlike Rhode Island, whose governor recently said the tiny state could be driven by peer pressure into legalizing the drug soon, [the Granite State] wants to hold out against the rising political tide."
  • "New Hampshire is surrounded by Vermont, Canada, Maine, and Massachusetts — all of which have legalized marijuana."

Flashback: The battle to legalize sports betting was won in May at the U.S. Supreme Court, and the specifics are being worked out in state legislatures and by the professional sports leagues.

  • Go deeper: Dan Primack, "The high-stakes game for sports betting dollars."
2. Shutdown enters Week 2
National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden Ice Rink on Thursday (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

EPA's pinned tweet:

"Due to a lapse in appropriations, EPA websites and social media will not be regularly updated. In the event of an environmental emergency threatening the safety of human life or to protect certain property, will be updated with appropriate information."

"Museums and galleries popular with visitors and locals in the nation's capital will close starting midweek if the partial shutdown of the federal government drags on," the AP reports:

  • "So will the National Zoo and a lively ice rink near the National Mall."
  • "The attractions have stayed open by using unspent funds, but they are about to run out of that money."

"Museums and galleries under the Smithsonian Institution umbrella will close starting Jan. 2, the Smithsonian said on its website."

  • "That includes the zoo, as well as the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Museum of Natural History, and several galleries, including the National Portrait Gallery, with its paintings of former presidents."
  • "The National Gallery of Art will close starting Jan. 3 ... That includes ... an ice rink in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden."

A week into the shutdown, federal workers' ire is turning to fear, the N.Y. Times' Glenn Thrush, Mitch Smith and Kate Taylor report:

  • Why it matters: "What at first seemed like ho-hum political brinkmanship is looking more like a prolonged, punishing shutdown, more akin to the 27-day funding lapse in 1995 and 1996 than the blink-and-miss-it shutdowns earlier this year."

🖋️ "[T]he federal Office of Personnel Management took the extraordinary, odd and ominous step of posting a link ['Sample Letters for Creditors and Mortgage Companies,' with] suggestions on how to defer rent payments, or even barter with landlords by offering to perform minor repair work like painting."

  • Suggested letter to mortgage company: "I am a Federal employee who has recently been furloughed due to a lack of funding of my agency. Because of this, my income has been severely cut and I am unable to pay the entire cost of my mortgage, along with my other expenses."
3. Key senators to announce 2020 runs in next few weeks

Four "high-profile Democratic senators are poised to enter the 2020 presidential race in the next several weeks," the N.Y. Times' Lisa Lerer and Alex Burns report:

  • "Senator Kamala Harris of California is eyeing Baltimore or Atlanta as a possible base of operations for her likely 2020 presidential bid and is close to bringing on a top aide to run her campaign."
  • "Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator, has completed a detailed review of her writings and political record to identify potential vulnerabilities, and her aides have been scouting headquarters near Boston."
  • "Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey has been interviewing possible campaign managers, as well as strategists who could run his Iowa caucus effort."
  • "Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has been reaching out to more women than men for campaign roles, though she is expected to pick a man — her current top aide [Jess Fassler] — to manage a campaign likely to be based near her upstate New York home."

Keep reading.

Bonus: Cover du jour
Courtesy N.Y. Post

"Even NYPD officers couldn’t hide their disbelief over the surprise light show that blew up over Astoria [Queens] on Thursday night," per the N.Y. Post.

  • "The blast ... cast an eerie aquamarine glow over the skyline that also could be seen in Brooklyn and Manhattan."
  • Con Edison statement: "An electrical fault on a section of 138,000-volt equipment in one of our Astoria substations caused a transmission disturbance and a sustained electrical arc flash."

PS. 911 cell-phone service in locations across the country was disrupted by an outage at Louisiana-based communications company CenturyLink, per CNN.

  • FCC Chair Ajit Pai called the outage "completely unacceptable."
4. Police killing stokes debate on sanctuary law
Police officer Ronil Singh, killed during a traffic stop (Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department via AP)

"A man who is living in the country illegally and has ... gang ties was arrested [yesterday] in the fatal shooting of a police officer during a traffic stop in Stanislaus County," Calif., just east of Silicon Valley, the L.A. Times' Brittny Mejia reports:

  • After a statewide hunt, Gustavo Perez Arriaga, 32, who had two prior arrests for drunk driving, was arrested in the death of Newman Police Cpl. Ronil Singh.
  • Arriaga was trying to flee to his native Mexico after the shooting, authorities said.
  • "The suspect’s 25-year-old brother, Adrian Virgen, and a coworker, 27-year-old Erik Razo Quiroz, both of whom were also in the country illegally, were arrested ... on felony charges that they interfered with the investigation."

The sanctuary debate ... "Arriaga’s previous brushes with the law and his subsequent release by law enforcement prompted angry comments from [Stanislaus Sheriff Adam Christianson] about Senate Bill 54, the state’s so-called sanctuary law, which provides expanded protection for immigrants who have entered the country illegally."

  • Sheriff Christianson: "This is a criminal illegal alien with prior criminal activity that should have been reported to ICE."
  • "Christianson ... was at a meeting with Trump and slams California's law in a video posted by the White House in May," per AP.

Go deeper on California's sanctuary law.

5. More retailers ban cash

More and more businesses like the Drybar chain of blow-dry salons don’t want your money — the paper kind at least, The Wall Street Journal's Katherine Bindley writes in an A-hed:

  • "The salad chain Sweetgreen has stopped accepting cash in nearly all its locations. Most Dig Inns —which serve locally sourced, healthy fast food —won’t take your bills either."
  • "Starbucks went cashless at a Seattle location in January, and at some pubs in the U.K., you can no longer get a pint with pound notes."
  • Why it matters: "It's making things awkward for those who come ill prepared. After all, you can’t give back a hairdo, an already dressed salad or the two beers you already drank."

Requiring cash option? "Massachusetts is the only state that currently requires retailers to accept cash. Some New Jersey legislators are working to make their state next."

  • "New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres of the Bronx recently proposed legislation that would prohibit retailers and restaurants from refusing cash, and city council members in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia have proposed similar legislation."
6. 1 fun thing
N.Y. Daily News Archive via Getty Images

A three-day music festival will be held in August at the original Woodstock concert site in Bethel, N.Y., to mark the 50th anniversary, the AP reports:

  • "The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, a concert venue built on the original Woodstock site, announced ... that it will host the golden anniversary event Aug. 16-18."
  • "The center says performers will include 'prominent and emerging artists spanning multiple genres and decades.' The venue says talks by 'leading futurists and retro-tech experts' will also be featured."

"The Woodstock Music and Arts Fair held Aug. 15-17, 1969, drew more than 400,000 people to Max Yasgur’s farm in the Sullivan County town of Bethel, 85 miles ... northwest of New York City."

Mike Allen