Dogwood Daily: Gun safety laws are coming
By Matt Blair
January 31, 2020

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…

Virginians continue to lead the ERA fight. Three Virginia Democratic attorneys generals sued David Ferriero, the archivist of the United States, after the National Archives and Records Administration announced this week that he would “take no action to certify the adoption of the Equal Rights Amendment.”

Five things you need to know today …

  1. Gun safety laws are coming— Seven pieces of gun legislation are now within striking distance of being passed. Democrats passed several bills Thursday, including universal background checks, requiring owners to report lost or stolen guns, and “red flag” laws. Several Republicans spoke out against the legislation, and most of the GOP voted against their passage. Lawmakers in the House and Senate will now have to iron out some of the language differences between the bills passed in their respective chambers. Gov. Ralph Northam has backed several of the measures and is expected to sign them into law. –Richmond Times-Dispatch
  2. Healthcare for female inmates— A bipartisan group of lawmakers is pushing legislation to better assist the health needs of Virginia’s incarcerated women. Del. Kaye Kory (D-Fairfax) is proposing HB 1648 to provide more medical resources for female inmates, particularly those who are pregnant or recently gave birth. She is advocating for the women to have access to breast milk, refrigerators to store breast milk, and more access to their infants. Advocacy groups say that such facilities are not only more humane, but they also help cut down on recidivism. -Virginia Public Media 
  3. Crime and Punishment: General Assembly version— Nobody’s above the law… except for legislators, apparently. Per the state’s constitution, Virginia’s lawmakers are mostly immune from arrest during the session, but a new piece of legislation could potentially change that. The proposal comes in the wake of Del. Chris L. Hurst’s (D-Montgomery) encounter with Christiansburg Police Department last week where he was pulled over for driving under the influence but let go without charges. The Christiansburg Police Department also announced an internal investigation into the encounter. -The Washington Post
  4. Get yourself counted!— Census Day is just two months away, and it’s very important to send in your census forms. Both Gov. Ralph Northam and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney encouraged people to make sure they get counted, and Stoney pointed out that communities lose $20,000 for every person that fails to be counted. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that only 78% of Virginia households mailed back their census forms in 2010. “Simply put, our city cannot afford to discount anyone,” Stoney said. -Richmond Times-Dispatch 
  5. Taxed tobacco— Another reason to quit? A new piece of legislation would allow Virginia localities to impose their own taxes on cigarettes on top of the state tax. Sen. Emmett Hanger (R-Augusta) introduced a proposal that would let Virginia cities impose their own taxes on cigarettes, meals, lodging, and admissions without voter referendums. One hundred and twenty Virginia localities already have cigarette taxes, but Hanger’s legislation would freeze those tax rates as of January 1, 2020. Senate Finance Chairwoman Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) asked the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission to study the law’s possible impact on local governments. -Richmond Times-Dispatch

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