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.
Researchers recently found that of the 83 percent of the waste found on Virginia’s beaches was made of…plastic.
Five things you need to know today …
- Advocates call for higher tax increase on cigarettes– The American Heart Association and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network are urging Gov. Ralph Northam to increase taxes on tobacco products even more than he initially proposed. Northam’s proposed budget raised cigarette taxes from 30 cents to 60 cents, and increased taxes on other tobacco products by 20%. The AHA said that while they were pleased with Northam’s proposed increase, they would like to see a $1 tax increase to deter people from using tobacco. -WSET
- Questions remain about student’s death in jail– Aris Lobo-Perez, a new student at Radford University, died in a cell at the New River Valley Regional Jail in September, after being arrested for public intoxication. The medical examiner’s office said the 18-year-old’s death was an accident caused by opioid toxicity and compounded by asthma. The student’s mother, Dixiana Perez, rejects that finding and says the police should have taken him to the hospital. The Virginia State Police are currently looking into the death and said the investigation is still ongoing. –The Washington Post
- Legislation introduced to increase university transparency– Two Virginia Democratic state delegates announced they are working on legislation that aims to make university donations more transparent. One bill would apply transparency rules to non-profit foundations affiliated with state and public institutions of higher education. The other would prohibit anonymous donors from attaching restrictions to their contributions. The proposed bills came in response to a Supreme Court ruling that George Mason University didn’t have to release the full details of the arrangements it made with the Koch brothers when accepting a large donation from them. –WAMU
- Northam proposes mental health budget increase– Gov. Northam proposed the single largest increase in mental health spending in the state’s history. The proposed expansion comes as Virginia faces overcrowding in mental health facilities across the state. The two-year $228 million proposal includes an 11% increase for state community health centers and $28 million for more staff and medications at state hospitals. Another $85 million would earmarked to build community support systems that aim to prevent admissions to state institutions in the first place. -Daily Press
- Voters support redistricting amendment– A new poll found a majority of Virginia voters support passing a redistricting amendment that will once again be up for a vote in the upcoming General Assembly session. The survey of 900 people found that 70% back a bipartisan redistricting commission comprised of qualified citizens and legislators. The poll also showed that 15% oppose the amendment. -WSET