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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…

Happy Valentine’s Day! If you’re still looking for some creative ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day, we’ve got you covered!

Five things you need to know today …

  1. Super Tuesday approaching– As we’re sure you’ve noticed, Democratic presidential campaigns are increasing their presence in the state with less than three weeks until Super Tuesday. Virginia has 124 delegates up for grabs, 99 of which are pledged, meaning they have to support a certain candidate. The Richmond Times-Dispatch breaks down how all the different candidates are preparing for the big day. –Richmond Times-Dispatch 
  2. Commission to study disparity– Gov. Ralph Northam announced a commission that will do the first disparity study on procurement opportunities for women and minority-owned businesses since 2011. According to Executive Order 35 issued in July, at least 42% of discretionary spending on contracts is supposed to go to small women and minority-owned businesses. But the 2011 report found only 2.82% of total contracts were awarded to said businesses. In his executive order, Northam said, “Virginia must work to maximize participation of a diverse group of vendors in state contractual work.” –Virginian Business 
  3. U.S. House votes to extend ERA ratification deadline– Virginia’s three female congresswomen celebrated the passage of a House resolution that would do away with the deadline to ratify the ERA. The House voted 232-183 to remove language setting the ratification deadline as 1982. Virginia recently became the 38th state to ratify the amendment. It seems unlikely that the measure will be taken up by the Senate, however, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said he is “personally not a supporter.” –Richmond Times-Dispatch
  4. Anti-choice rally in Richmond- Thousands of protesters rallied in Richmond Thursday to oppose the pro-choice legislation moving through the General Assembly. Expanding abortion access has been a top priority for Democrats, and both the House and the Senate have passed bills repealing a medically unnecessary ultrasound requirement and mandatory 24 hour waiting period. Several Republican legislators spoke to the gathered crowd, including Sen. Steve Newman (R-Lynchburg) and Del. Kathy Byron (R-Bedford). -The Roanoke Times   
  5. Lack of bank access in rural Virginia– Rural communities in Virginia are struggling to find access to banks. A November report by the Federal Reserve Board listed four counties as deeply affected by bank branch closures. As more banks have merged and people have moved to online banking, physical banks have continued to close in rural communities across the country. The absence of banks can have a lot of indirect consequences on a community, impacting quality life, and investment in the community. -Virginia Business