Dogwood Daily: Northam unveils full budget

By Sean Galvin

December 18, 2019

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.

But first…

A New York Times article from last year brought national attention to the eviction crisis in Richmond. Now, a promising new report reveals that eviction rates have dropped 19% in Richmond and 14% across Virginia.

Five things you need to know today …

  1. Northam unveils full budget– Gov. Ralph Northam unveiled his full $135 billion budget Tuesday morning to the General Assembly’s money committees. Northam’s budget included investments in public education, environmental protection, and workforce training. Attached to the spending plan were new taxes on tobacco, gasoline, and the elimination of a yearly vehicle inspection requirement. Northam said the progressive spending plan gives voters what they demanded in November’s election. -Washington Post
  2. Virginia parole rates remain low– While Virginia parole rates have gone up in recent years, the numbers still remain quite low. The percentage of parole requests approved increased from roughly 3% in 2014-2016 to 13.5% in 2017, according to an analysis by the Capital News Service. Advocates say the rate is still too low, however, and have been advocating for the state to grant more people parole, particularly the elderly and juvenile. “Considering that parole is a conditional release of an individual, this rate should be much higher,” said Jwa’n Moore, director of Taking Back Our Youth, a nonprofit organization dedicated to prison reform. -Washington Post  
  3. Virginia workers’ compensation doesn’t cover repetitive work activities-– Virginia is the only state in the U.S. whose workers’ compensation system doesn’t cover injuries caused by repetition work activities. The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission recommended in a new report that Virginia should allow those with such injuries to be covered. Stakeholders say such coverage could drive up costs for employers, a claim the commission disputes. -13 News Now
  4. Councilwoman pushes for new Civil War statue– Richmond City Councilwoman Kim Gray is pushing for a new statue memorializing the 14 black Union soldiers who fought in the Battle of New Market Heights in Henrico. Gray asked the city to give $5,000 in seed money to start funding the Honor the 14 Foundation, which plans to raise millions of dollars for the statue. The foundation wants the memorial to be placed on Monument Avenue with the sculpture of Confederate leaders to paint a fuller picture of the Civil War.  -VPM
  5. Not all counties use sex trafficking law equally–  In 2015, Virginia passed a commercial sex trafficking law to allow for aggressive policing of those who push others into prostitution. The Virginian-Pilot found that not all localities have used the law equally, however. For example, Henrico Circuit Court charged people with that specific crime at eight times the rate of their counterparts in Hampton Roads. Some jurisdictions say these numbers don’t paint a full picture, however, because they use a variety of different criminal statutes to combat the problem. -The Virginian-Pilot 

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