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.
Curious just how much weight Virginia’s votes will carry on Super Tuesday? VPM spoke with political analyst Bob Holsworth about Virginia’s role in the upcoming primary.
Five things you need to know today …
- Prepping for Coronavirus in Virginia– While there are no reported cases of coronavirus in Virginia, the state has begun to prepare for its potential impact. Hospitals, businesses, and airports have developed emergency plans and put safety measures in place. The virus has already affected travel at some institutions, including Arlington County-based Nestlé, which asked its employees not to travel internationally until mid-March. UVA is also discouraging students from traveling to CDC “high alert” locations. – Virginia Business
- Red flag bill moves forward— The “red flag” gun safety bill cleared the Senate yesterday and will now head back to the House for review. If passed, the legislation will allow for the temporary confiscation of guns from people deemed a risk to themselves or others. There was a heated debate in the Senate before the bill’s passage about due process, and concerns that the bill didn’t do enough to address the mental health of those who would be affected. Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax ultimately broke a 20-20 tie to secure its passage. -Richmond Times-Dispatch
- New bill would allow students absences for mental health— Virginia doesn’t have any standards for addressing mental health in schools, but a new bill aims to change that. The General Assembly passed a measure that would allow excused absences for K-12 students experiencing mental health issues and will help create standards for how Virginia school districts address emotional and mental health needs within its schools. If signed into law, the bill gives the Virginia Department of Education until Dec. 31 to establish uniform guidelines for the state moving forward. -Education Week
- Democrats repeal abortion restrictions— Abortion restrictions put into place by Republicans are being dismantled by the Democratically-controlled legislature. The House passed a bill Thursday rolling back a 24-hour waiting period and requirements that women receive ultrasounds before receiving an abortion. The Senate passed a companion measure earlier this week, and the bill now heads Gov. Northam, who is expected to sign it into law. —WTVR
- Outstanding fines may no longer lead to license suspension– A bill ending the practice of suspending driver’s licenses for unpaid fines or court costs cleared the General Assembly Wednesday. Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran clarified that people will still have to pay their court fines, but said the state will use other measures to collect it. Gov. Northam encouraged the legislature to pass the bill, and already has altered the state budget to stop license suspensions. The bill is now headed to Gov. Northam, who is expected to sign it. -The Virginian-Pilot