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5 Things you need to know today
- Drug companies flooded Norton, Va. with 306 pain pills per person each year – Norton, Va., a rural town of only 4,000 people, received an astounding 306 pain pills per person per year – the most opioid pain pills per capita in the nation – between 2006 and 2012, according to a new Washington Post analysis. Another Virginia town, Martinsville, Va. received the second most pain pills per capita, at 242 pills per person each year. The consequences for Norton were particularly catastrophic; the per capita death rate from prescription opioid overdoses was 18 times the national rate — easily the highest in the country. – The Dogwood
- Federal minimum wage battle could reignite Virginia’s minimum wage battle -The House of Representatives voted to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour on Thursday, with nearly all Democrats, including all seven in Virginia’s congressional delegation, voting for the bill, and all but three Republicans voting against it. The bill is all but certain to die in the Republican-led Senate, but is likely to spark a renewed battle over Virginia’s minimum wage, which sits at $7.25 per hour. Democrats tried to raise the minimum wage four times this year, but Republicans blocked each bill. – WCVE News
- Free community college tuition could be coming to Virginia – Gov. Ralph Northam announced this week that he intends to introduce a plan that would allow Virginia residents to attend community colleges and graduate debt-free in exchange for spending one year in a public service job or working in a high-demand field. The details of the program, which would follow the model of programs like Americorps, “aren’t set in stone” yet, but Northam expects to hash them out and make a formal announcement in the coming weeks. – The Virginian-Pilot
- House Speaker Kirk Cox wants to raise teacher pay to national average; Dems want to go higher – Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox announced on Thursday that he wants to increase teacher pay in the state to meet the national average. Currently, Virginia teachers are among the most underpaid in the nation, which has caused an enormous teacher shortage in the state. That fact prompted Del. Chris Hurst (D-Blacksburg) to tweet that average “simply won’t cut it” and that the state should aspire to more. Del. Schuyler Van Valkenburg (D-Henrico) also pointed out that Cox was “willing to be under average for decades.” –Richmond Times-Dispatch
- 26 Richmond Public School students shot and 2 have died in the last year -Twenty-six Richmond Public School students have been shot in the last year, prompting the school to increase its counseling budget by $250,000 next year. RPS has more than 150 psychologists, therapists, specialists and other counselors on staff, but increasingly, Richmond parents are also calling for more to be done to solve the city’s gun violence problem. – WWBT
From the Gram