Dogwood Daily: General Assembly Goes Down to The Wire
By Arianna Coghill
March 9, 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 General Assembly wrapped up almost all of its work over the weekend, in a session that required a last minute extension less than a half hour before midnight on Sunday to keep going until 6 p.m. that day. But they used that extra time to pass a lot of legislation, some of which we detail below.

Five things you need to know today …

1. Three Coronavirus Cases Confirmed in Virginia- According to Virginia health officials, an Arlington resident in their 60’s is a “presumptive positive” for the coronavirus, bringing the state’s case total to three. The first case was a U.S. Marine who was recently overseas and is currently at Fort Belvoir in northern Virginia. The second was a Fairfax city resident. Officials say basic precautionary measures, like washing your hands for 20 seconds, are the best way to prevent spreading the virus. –WSLS 10

2. Lawmakers Pass Bill for Confederate Monument Removal-  Some of the many Confederate monuments in the Commonwealth may finally come down thanks to legislation passed this weekend. The General Assembly passed a bill that removes legal protections for the Confederate monuments around the state. The bill gives power to local governments to “remove, relocate, contextualize or cover” any veteran memorials, including the Civil War. Del. Sally Hudson (D-Charlottesville) says it’s a “huge step, but it’s one more step in a long process”. –Virginia Mercury

3. Virginia Lawmakers One Step Closer to Decriminalizing Marijuana- Small amounts of marijuana will no longer be punishable by jail time in Virginia, instead they will be treated like minor traffic violations. The bill sets a $25 civil fine for possession of up to an ounce of weed or products derived from it. The bill also seals records of past and future convictions, and prohibits employers from asking about violations, with the exceptions for law enforcement agencies. – Virginia Mercury

4. Lawmakers Approve Casinos in 5 VA cities- Lawmakers also struck a deal to bring casinos to five Virginia cities, as part of an effort to bolster their local economies. If signed by Gov. Ralph Northam, Portsmouth, Richmond, Norfolk, Bristol and Danville voters will vote to approve the casinos in a referendum in November. –The Virginian Pilot

5. GA Passes Bill to Raise the Minimum Wage to $12-  The Virginia General Assembly passed legislation to gradually raise the minimum wage to $12 over the next three years. Beginning in 2021, the minimum wage will raise from $7.25 to $9.50. The following year it’ll raise to $11. And by Jan 1, 2023, it will be $12. The rate could potentially increase to $13.25 in 2025 but it would require another legislative pass again during the 2024 General Assembly session. –The Roanoke Times

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