Dogwood Weekly Recap
By Keya Vakil
May 5, 2019

It was another busy week in the Commonwealth, so we’ve got our week-in-review coming right up.

But First…

It’s Sunday funday and we’re mere hours away from the third-to-last episode of Game of Thrones. If that makes you sad, you’re not alone. But if you’re looking for a new show to check out, we recommend BBC America’s Killing Eve.


  1. Exploring the Minimum Wage in Virginia — This week included International Workers Day, so we took a closer look at the minimum wage in Virginia. Our series of stories explored how Virginia’s minimum wage stacks up against other states, whether the state’s minimum wage is enough to live on, and highlighted the impossibility of living on the minimum wage in Loudoun County. We also documented Del. Hala Ayala’s struggle to survive on the minimum wage during the 1990s and how that led her to become an outspoken advocate for raising it.
  2. Gov. Northam takes on mandatory minimums — As part of a mea culpa for his blackface scandals, Gov. Ralph Northam pledged to fight for racial equity. This week, in an op-ed in the Washington Post, Northam announced the veto of two mandatory mandatory minimum sentence bills and said he would not sign any new mandatory minimum bills during the rest of his term as governor. Northam explained his decision by saying that mandatory minimums have contributed to America’s growing prison population while “disproportionately harming people and communities of color.”
  3. Virginia won’t join a groundbreaking climate program — Two weeks ago, it looked like Virginia was on the verge of becoming the first southern state to enact a major climate program. Those hopes were dashed on Thursday, when Governor Ralph Northam announced he would not veto a Republican budget provision that blocks Virginia from joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a multi-state initiative to curb greenhouse gases linked to climate change. Environmental groups had pushed for Northam to veto the measure, but the governor, perhaps fearing a protracted legal battle, opted not to.
  4. Trump Fed pick Stephen Moore goes down in flames — For the second time in a month, one of President Donald Trump’s selections for the Federal Reserve Board was torpedoed. After weeks of scrutiny over his history of sexist comments and financial misbehavior, Stephen Moore, a Trump loyalist with questionable economic ideas, “withdrew” from consideration on Thursday. Among some of Moore’s greatest hits were his comments that men needed to be the breadwinners, his denigration of female athletes, and racist jokes about former President Barack Obama. Yeah, not great. Also, we’d be remiss if we didn’t give a shout out to Virginia’s own U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton (VA-10), who helped draw attention to some of Moore’s outlandish economic views with her questions during a committee hearing.
  5. More Virginia public universities freeze tuition rates  — The week began with James Madison University and the College of William & Mary announcingthat they would join several other schools in freezing their in-state tuition rates for undergraduate students.  It ended with Old Dominion University joining that group on Friday, announcing its own tuition freeze. These freezes come after the General Assembly passed an education incentive package that offered schools extra state funding in exchange for keeping tuition rates down.

  • 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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