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. And if you’re a fan, please forward to three friends who need to know what’s going on in the Commonwealth and tell them to subscribe here

But first…

If you find yourself up late tonight, be sure to head outside and check out the Alpha Monocerotids meteor shower. Astronomers are saying it could be quite the show.

Five things you need to know today …

  1. Counties move to become “Second Amendment Sanctuaries”– Officials in a growing number of Virginia counties have voted to designate their localities as “Second Amendment Sanctuaries.” The resolution expresses the county’s intent to defy gun safety regulations, and comes after Gov. Northam’s said the new Democratic majority will pursue gun safety legislation. Appomattox, Campbell, Charlotte, Carroll, and Pittsylvania counties have all adopted the legislation, with several more planning on following suit. -The News Advance
  2. Appalachian job market stagnates— Virginia’s Appalachian region has lagged behind the rest of the state in job growth since the Great Recession, according to a report from the Appalachian Regional Commission. While Virginia’s economy generally witnessed employment growth in the wake of the Great Recession, the Appalachian region’s has actually dropped. Virginia’s counties experienced nearly 1% decrease in employment between 2012 and 2017, compared to the rest of the state’s 8% increase. -Bristol Herald-Courier 
  3. Senate Democrats choose leaders–Virginia Senate Democrats have elected Sen. Dick Saslaw (Fairfax County) as the next majority leader and Sen. Mamie Locke (Hampton) as caucus chair for the next General Assembly. The party gathered Wednesday to make appointments ahead of the annual Senate Finance Committee retreat. Other notable appointments include Sen. Louise Lucas (Portsmouth) as president pro tempore and Sen. Janet Howell (Fairfax) as chairwoman of the influential Finance Committee. –Richmond Times-Dispatch
  4. Northam selects new behavioral health commissioner– Gov. Northam announced that Alison Land will be the state’s next Commissioner of Behavioral Health and Development Services. Land, who currently hold a similar role at Sentara Health, will fill the spot after the unexpected death of Dr. Hughes Melton in an August car accident. The commissioner will manage a network of state institutions for people with mental illness and developmental disabilities, which is currently in crisis as hospitals struggle to find enough beds for patients. –Richmond Times-Dispatch
  5. Virginia’s unemployment rate drops- Virginia’s unemployment rate dropped to 2.6%, tying for the fourth-lowest in the United States. The jobless rate is considerably lower than the 3.6% national average. Gov. Northam announced that it was the 16th straight month that the state’s labor force had grown. Vermont currently leads the nation with an unemployment rate of 2.2%. –WHSV