Welcome to today’s edition of the Dogwood Daily. We’ve got all the Virginia news you need to know coming right up.
Happy Tax Day, Virginia. Your personal income taxes are due today, so make sure to get them filed and then treat yourself to one of these deals.
5 Things you need to know today…
- Virginia doctors reluctant to recommend medical marijuana – Only 251 of Virginia’s 35,404 licensed doctors have registered to write recommendations for medical marijuana. The General Assembly has made it easier for doctors to prescribe marijuana over the last two years, but many medical groups have prohibited doctors from participating, fearing liability because of the federal ban on marijuana. The situation has left patients frustrated and hoping for easier access. Five medical marijuana dispensaries are set to open this year, giving patients some options.
- Shipyard union sets ambitious political agenda – The Newport News shipyard union is looking to make a name for itself in 2019, launching a major non-partisan voter outreach campaign. Leaders of the union, which is part of United Steelworkers Local 8888, want to turn out their nearly 10,000 members in this November’s elections. The union is trying new methods of outreach, including a rap video, and is focused on drawing in a younger generation of employees to help revitalize the labor movement.
- Racial disparity in policing plagues parts of Virginia – Only 50% of Richmond’s population is African American, but 65% of police stops in the city are of African American people, according to nearly two years’ worth of data from the Richmond Police Department. That number increase when looking at specific categories of crimes, with African Americans make up 98% of all stops for potential curfew violations and 78% of potential trespassing violations. In Charlottesville, African Americans are 19% of the population but made up more than 50% of the arrests in the city, making them five times more likely to be arrested than any other race.
- Amazon awards grants to NoVa schools – In advance of opening its HQ2 in Crystal City, Amazon has awarded grants to 25 schools in the greater D.C. area. Six schools in Alexandria and four in Arlington are the recipients of grants, which will help schools expand computer science and robotics opportunities in low-income and underserved communities. The Amazon Future Engineer Robotics Grant covers the cost of starting a robotics club with FIRST, a group focused on boosting STEM education, and schools will also receive $10,000 to expand computer-science education. While Amazon’s larger presence in Virginia remains controversial, these grants are unlikely to stir any ill will.
- Virginia lawmakers aim to solve I-95 traffic issues – If you live in Virginia, odds are you have a horror story about your experience on I-95. But there may be hope yet. Thanks to a new bill passed by the Virginia General Assembly, the state transportation board will study ways to improve the traffic-clogged highway across the entire state. The study will focus on relieving congestion and improving safety along the 50-mile stretch from Northern Virginia to just south of Fredericksburg. Officials say the solutions won’t include new taxes or tolls and anticipate submitting a plan to the General Assembly in December, though any project would have to go through the state’s funding prioritization program.