Dogwood Daily: Virginia GOP = Drama
By Keya Vakil
May 7, 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. Want to subscribe? Click here.

But first…

You think Washington D.C. and Westeros are experiencing chaos? The Virginia GOP isn’t far behind: The Prince William County Republicans nominated a far-right candidate for county board chair, the battle for the nomination in the 97th district took another bizarre turn, and a campaign staffer for ex-congressman Scott Taylor was indicted for submitting forged signatures during last year’s race against U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria.


Top 5 things you need to know today…

  1. Federal judge strikes down unnecessary abortion restriction — On Monday, a federal judge in Richmond struck down a Virginia law stating that only physicians may perform first-trimester abortions. U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson said the law was “unnecessary and provides minimal medical benefits,” and imposes an undue burden on the right to abortion access. Hudson’s decision comes ahead of a two-week trial for a larger lawsuit, brought by Planned Parenthood and a number of abortion providers, that seeks to strike down a series of other restrictive abortion laws.
  2. ACA premiums soar as Republicans attacks continue — Enrollment in Virginia’s individual health insurance marketplace is estimated to reach an all-time lowin 2019, with 262,800 people buying health insurance individually, compared to a peak of 418,013 in 2016. During that same period, the average monthly premium has more than doubled, to almost $800 a month in 2019. While some of that drop can be attributed to the good news that 45,000 Virginians previously insured through the individual marketplace have enrolled in Medicaid, Republicans’ repeal of the individual mandate and President Trump’s persistent attacks on the Affordable Care Act have played a big role as well.
  3. State Sen. Jennifer McClellan launches PAC ahead of fall elections — With General Assembly elections less than six months away, State Sen. Jennifer L. McClellan (D-Richmond) has launched a new political action committee to help Democrats win control of both houses of the General Assembly. McClellan, who is also rumored to be considering a run for governor in 2021, formed Virginia United PAC in late April and announced its creation on Tuesday.
  4. ACLU sues to end solitary confinement at two prisons in Virginia — Citing inmates who’ve suffered PTSD, weight loss, hallucinations, and inmates who have spent nearly 24 years in isolation, the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia filed a federal class-action lawsuit that seeks to end solitary confinement at Red Onion and Wallens Ridge prisons in southwestern Virginia. The ACLU says the plaintiffs are being held in what amounts to permanent solitary confinement and have suffered “severe physical and mental health damage.”
  5. Virginia AG calls on FCC to address robocalls — Annoyed by the constant barrage of robocalls and spoofed calls you’re getting? So is everyone else, which is why Virginia’s Attorney General, Mark Herring, joined 41 other attorneys general in calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take more steps to stop illegal robocalls, spoof calls, and spoof messages. Herring said the calls are not only irritating, but also dangerous, as they’re often part of a scam. The FCC reported that imposter scams cost consumers $488 million last year.
  • 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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