Dogwood Daily: News-to-Go
By Keya Vakil
April 26, 2019

Welcome to today’s edition of the Dogwood Daily. We’ve got a round-up of all the Virginia news that’s been happening coming right up.

But First…

Absentee voting begins today for the June 11 Virginia primary elections. You can vote absentee at your local voter registration office, or by mail. But to vote absentee, you must meet one of the 20 eligibility requirements.

Just as importantly, the deadline to pay your state tax returns is May 1, so make sure to file those returns and avoid penalties and interest. Plus, if you file before July 1, you’re eligible for a one-time tax refund of $110 as an individual, or $220 as a couple.

5 Things you need to know today…

  1. Hepatitis A outbreak comes to Virginia — The hepatitis A outbreak that has infected over 15,000 Americans across 18 states has now spread to Virginia. According to the state’s Department of Health, there have been 45 cases reported in the Commonwealth as of Monday; a 132% increase in cases compared to this time last year. The outbreak, which began in 2016 and has been made worse by the scientifically false anti-vax movement, has resulted in 140 deaths across the country. Most of the early cases in the state occurred in southwest Virginia, but have now spread statewide. As always, the best defense for the virus is vaccination.
  2. Republican race for 97th district nomination gets even uglier — An already contentious race for the Republican nomination in Virginia’s 97th district became even more controversial as incumbent Del. Chris Peace (R-Hanover), a House committee chairman, stands accused of offering to move a bill forward in exchange for an endorsement. Del. Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) accused Peace of playing political games with Freitas’ legislation and said he wanted voters to know how Peace conducted himself.
  3. Virginia teacher pay remains an issue — Virginia’s teachers are the third most underpaid in the nation when compared to other college-educated workers, according to a report by the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal leaning think tank. Over the last four years, the weekly wages of Virginia teachers has fallen 31% lower than the pay of other college-educated workers. While the report points to the 2008 recession as a key cause of cuts to public school funding, it also put the onus on state lawmakers for their policy choices. Responding to public pressure, the General Assembly finally passed a budget this year to provide Virginia teachers with raises, though the state’s teachers still earn well below the national average.
  4. Things are (mostly) looking up for the Mountain Valley Pipeline  — The Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), a controversial natural gas pipeline, received good news this week, as the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection revised a state regulation that had previously delayed a key part of the pipeline’s construction. The revised regulation paves the way for the project to resume crossing more than 1,000 streams and wetlands in West Virginia and Virginia, though other roadblocks have emerged due to a court ruling on a case involving a different pipeline.
  5. Biden’s use of Charlottesville in launch video receives mixed feedback locally — Former Vice President Joe Biden’s decision to use the deadly Unite the Right rally Charlottesville in his Presidential campaign announcement video has been met with some criticism from the local community. One activist expressed his concern over Biden’s use of the rally’s counter-protestors as “political props,” while another thought the video was “inappropriate.” The video did receive some praise, though, as Charlottesville City Councilor Mike Signer tweeted his support for Biden’s video and reference to the deadly rally.
  • Keya Vakil

    Keya Vakil is the deputy political editor at COURIER. He previously worked as a researcher in the film industry and dabbled in the political world.

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