Dogwood Daily: A whole lot of news regarding racist statues
By Matt Blair
February 3, 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…

The presidential candidates are coming! While Democratic primary voters in Iowa and New Hampshire currently get most of the attention, representatives for Michael Bloomberg’s campaign made a stop in Loudoun last week. With Super Tuesday just one month away, more visits to Virginia are likely to start ramping up soon.

Five things you need to know today …

  1. Bill giving authority to localities to remove Confederate statues advances–The Senate Committee on Local Government voted 8-7 to advance a bill giving local governments the authority to remove war monuments. The bill was introduced by Sen. Mamie Locke (D-Hampton) and passed along party lines. Recent attempts by civil rights groups to remove Confederate monuments have been blocked by a 1904 law that prevents localities from removing war monuments. The bill will now head to the Senate floor for debate. -Courthouse News Service
  2. More racist statue news—Well, that certainly backfired! Del. Wendell S. Walker (R-Lynchburg) introduced a bill calling for the removal of 10-foot statue of Harry Flood Byrd, the former Democratic governor and U.S. senator who fought school desegregation. Walker filed the bill hoping Democrats, who have called for the removal of Confederate monuments, would fight it and possibly reveal a hidden hypocrisy. Instead, Democrats have embraced the legislation. Now Walker is attempting to kill his own bill, nervous that Democrats will use it to justify the removal of Confederate monuments. –The Washington Post 
  3. Parole reform update— Gov. Ralph Northam has been pushing to reinstate parole in Virginia 25 years after the state abolished it. While prisoner advocates are excited about the prospect, the plans for reform are running into opposition from Republicans, who say they are concerned about the idea of letting convicted criminals out early. The Northam administration argues that current policy has resulted in overcrowded prisons and skyrocketing medical care costs. –The Washington Post 
  4. Virginia not keeping promise to people intellectual disabilities— A report found Virginia is falling behind on its pledge to better assist people with intellectual or developmental disabilities to live on their own. The state vowed to increase community services and help more people with disabilities seven years ago, as part of a settlement with the Department of Justice. While the state doesn’t officially have to reach compliance by the end of 2020, a review found Virginia still has a ways to go. According to the report, the state still doesn’t have enough compliance staff, hasn’t been able to get private providers to meet its standards, and has been transferring people to group homes before getting proper approval. -The Virginian-Pilot 
  5. Legislation aims to reduce utilities’ carbon emissions– A piece of legislation introduced by Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) aims to set renewable energy targets for utility companies like Dominion. While the Senate Commerce and Labor committee voted the bill down Thursday, it is still set to appear before the full Senate Commerce and Labor Committee. Negotiations between environmental groups and the state’s utility companies over the bill’s final language continued through the weekend. –Richmond Times-Dispatch

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