Dogwood Daily: More money, more problems
By Matt Blair
February 13, 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…

Curious how many bills survived the crossover from one chamber to the other? VPAP has a helpful visualization, and a comparison to how things fared in 2018.

Five things you need to know today …

  1. Democrats reshape the state— The Virginia General Assembly has passed a great deal of legislation since Democrats took over the government in January. So much legislation, in fact, that newspapers couldn’t possibly cover each one. The Washington Post has compiled a list of some of the important bills that didn’t get as much attention as some other higher profile measures. These include bills repealing the death penalty, LGBT protections, sentencing reform and the banning of skill game machines. -The Washington Post  
  2. Extra cash for the state— More money, more problems. Virginia’s revenues rose 8.7% in January compared to the same month last year, outpacing the state’s expectations. The state had $700 million more at the end of the month than anticipated, meaning the General Assembly may end up with additional money in the budget. Gov. Ralph Northam’s staff is recalculating their budget and figuring out how much additional money the state will have at the end of the fiscal year. -Richmond Times-Dispatch 
  3. No more styrofoam— The House passed legislation that would ban some chain restaurants from using styrofoam containers by July 1, 2021. The bill was introduced by Del. Paul Krizek (D-Alexandria) and passed with a 55-44 vote on Tuesday. Styrofoam is not biodegradable and takes up a great deal of the space in the state’s landfills. The bill did carve out exceptions for public schools and correctional facilities. The state Senate will now consider the bill’s fate. -Reston Now
  4. Popularity contest in Virginia– The Virginia House of Delegates passed legislation that would award its electoral votes to the presidential ticket that wins the most individual votes in all 50 states. If enacted into law, Virginia would join 15 other states and Washington, D.C., in the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. The compact only goes into effect when participating states cumulatively possess the majority of the electoral votes. The legislation will now be considered by the state Senate. -The Hill 
  5. Prosecutors drop mask charges– Prosecutors dropped a felony charge of wearing a mask against the only person arrested at last month’s anti-gun safety rally in downtown Richmond. The charges against Mikaela E. Beschler were dropped after Virginia acknowledged that it would have been difficult to prove the defendant had criminal intent. Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Colette McEachin confirmed that the case had been dropped, referencing a prior Virginia case that allows for an exception to the law for weather conditions. -Richmond Times-Dispatch
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