Welcome to today’s edition of the Dogwood Daily. We’ve got a round-up of all of today’s Virginia news 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.
Virginia’s first self-driving shuttle is set to launch in Fairfax County in late 2019 or early 2020. The project, which is the result of a county partnership with Dominion Energy, brings us one step closer to our fully autonomous future.
5 things you need to know today…
- Virginia GOP goes all in on Trump – While President Trump was in Orlando, FL formally launching his re-election campaign, Virginia Republicans’ official twitter account sent out a tweet, saying “Let’s get it done,” and calling for “FOUR MORE YEARS!” Trump has been deeply unpopular in the state for most of his presidency, making the state party’s decision to give such vocal support to an incumbent president a riskier bet than it would usually be.
- Virginia Beach fallout continues – Despite the best efforts of two Virginia Beach city councilors, the council voted 8-2 to delay action on a resolution supporting General Assembly legislation that would give localities the right to ban guns in municipal buildings. That legislation, from Del. Kelly Convirs Fowler (D-Virginia) will come to the floor in the legislature’s upcoming special session, which begins on July 9. Meanwhile, family members of three of the shooting victims are calling on the city to open an independent investigation, accusing officials of not being transparent or forthcoming.
- Deadline to qualify for one-time tax return is July 1 – Nearly 350,000 Virginia taxpayers who are eligible for a one-time tax return this year need to file their returns by July 1 to qualify for the payment. Individuals will receive $110 while married couples will get $220, but only if they file by July 1. The one-time payment was designed to compensate taxpayers who might pay more in state taxes after changes to the federal tax code were implemented in 2017. There is a caveat, though: Taxpayers who owe outstanding debts to the state or local governments, state courts or the IRS will see their refund applied to those debts.
- Colonial Downs’ new casinos are thriving – Colonial Downs opened two new casinos in May and so far, bettors have approved. Visitors wagered $70.8 million in the month of May at the two casinos, according to the Virginia Mercury. The betting generated $531,000 in state tax revenue and $354,000 in local tax revenue, indicating that expanding legalizing gambling could be profitable for the Commonwealth.
- Mountain Valley Pipeline sees further delays, cost increases – The controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline may now take until mid-2020 to complete and cost as much as $5 billion, according to a new report in The Roanoke Times. The pipeline has raised the ire of environmentalists, and faced several delays and legal threats over its crossing of the Appalachian Trail. But a new plan would allow the company to keep its current path across the trail in exchange for giving the U.S. Department of the Interior a piece of property that Mountain Valley owns next to the Jefferson National Forest. If the land swap is approved, it would remove at least one of the hurdles faced by the company, though environmentalists continue to remain staunchly opposed to the project.