Dogwood Daily: Virginia's lobbyist explosion
By Keya Vakil
May 14, 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. And if you’re a fan, please forward to three friends who need to know what’s going on in the Commonwealth and tell them to subscribe here.  

But First…

If you live in Virginia Beach, we are truly jealous of you. Not just because it’s beautiful, but also because Shake Shack will be opening its first store in the city on May 22. If you’re wondering what to order, we recommend the double shackburger, fries and frozen custard. Do not, we repeat, do not under any circumstances forget the custard.

Top 5 things you need to know today…

  1. Trump’s trade war escalates (again) — No, you’re not experiencing deja vu. After President Trump implemented a 25% tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods on Friday, China responded by imposing a tariff on $60 billion worth of American goods. In response, Trump is beginning the process of expanding tariffs to cover all $540 billion in Chinese exports, a move that is expected to raise prices on cell phones, sunglasses, cameras, televisions and could have a devastating impact on the American economy.
  2. Norfolk and Newport News to receive $30 million each for public housing redevelopment — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded Norfolk and Newport News $30 million in competitive grants to jump start redevelopment efforts in both cities. The cities plan to knock down aging and dilapidated housing and replace it with new, mixed-income developments while also implementing new social, health and jobs programs to help the existing population.
  3. State lawmakers want more federal funding for I-81 — Sixteen state lawmakers who represent parts of the I-81 corridor wrote a letter to Virginia’s congressional delegation, asking members to secure more federal money to upgrade the highway. The Virginia General Assembly recently approved a plan to raise $150 billion for upgrades, but the lawmakers said additional funding is needed to make more safety improvements to prevent accidents and delays. How much more money is needed? Well, the Virginia Department of Transportation has identified an additional $2 billion in improvements for the highway, so… a lot.
  4. Richmond and Roanoke City Councils approve budgets — After a contentious budget cycle, the Richmond City Council approved a $747 million budget that includes a new 50-cent-per-pack cigarette tax, $18 million in new money for Richmond Public Schools and a 3% raise for city employees. Meanwhile, the Roanoke City Council approved a $299 million budget with no tax increases that includes $2.1 million in additional funding for schools and a 2.75% pay increase for city workers.
  5. Number of lobbyists in General Assembly rise by 25% since 2010 — Virginia’s state legislature has seen a surge in the number of registered lobbyists over the last decade, from around 800 in 2010 to 995 in 2019, according to data from the Virginia Public Access Project. Experts attribute the rise to the growth of new industries in Virginia as well as the shift of lobbying dollars from a grid-locked Washington D.C. to state capitals.
  • 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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