Dogwood Daily: It’s not a popularity contest (for now)

By Matt Blair

February 26, 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…

Railroads play a key role in Roanoke’s history as a city. The Roanoke Times has a great series of vintage photos featuring Roanoke’s railroad past.

Five things you need to know today …

  1. It’s not a popularity contest (for now)— The popular vote will have to wait. The Senate Privileges and Elections Committee voted to carry a bill that would have decided the presidential election by popular vote over to the 2021 session. The bill was initially introduced by Del. Mark Levin (D-Alexandria) in the House, where it cleared. The bill would have entered Virginia into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, scrapping the current system altogether. Under the compact, participating states agree to award their electoral votes to the winner of the most votes nationally. -Richmond Times-Dispatch
  2. Virginia’s troubling black maternal death rate— Black women die twice as frequently as white women due to pregnancy complications, according to data from the Virginia Department of Health. Between 1999 to 2014, 79.3 of 100,000 black women giving birth died versus 34.2 of 100,000 white women. The issue is a nationwide problem and is getting renewed attention on Capitol Hill as lawmakers try to address the issue. The Virginia Mercury profiles Erica McAfee, a Suffolk-based woman who nearly died during childbirth and has since launched a podcast to address the maternal death rate and other pregnancy-related issues impacting black women. -Virginia Mercury  
  3. Needle exchange bill clears General Assembly— A piece of legislation making it easier for Virginia localities to start needle exchanges recently passed both the House and Senate. Currently there are only four exchanges in the entire state. Besides providing clean needles, the exchanges also offer Narcan to reverse overdoses, provide HIV and Hepatitis C testing, and connect people with healthcare. The legislation is now on its way to the Governor’s desk for a signature -WVTF  
  4. Robots everywhere— First delivery drones, now delivery robots… the future is really here. The General Assembly passed a bill allowing for delivery robots in the state, which will allow for Scout, Amazon’s motorized delivery service, to advance. The bill permits the six-wheeled robots to use sidewalks and the shoulder of certain roads. When discussing the bill, its patron Sen David Marsden (D-Burke) said it was “brought to us by our friends at Amazon.” -Washington Business Journal
  5. Bill blocking offshore drilling– Both chambers of the General Assembly passed legislation that would block drilling off Virginia’s shore. While the state doesn’t have the authority to ban offshore drilling, it can prevent oil from reaching the shore via pipeline. The Trump administration has been pushing for drilling in the Atlantic, but this legislation could potentially block them in the region. The two pieces of legislation were worded identically and now head to Gov. Ralph Northam, who has indicated his support. -Daily Press
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