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…

Hampton Roads is set to get a new area code! The 757 area code will soon run out of available numbers, so the the State Corporation Commission announced they would be adding a 948 area code to rotation.

Five things you need to know today …

  1. You can’t sue the state– Virginia, along with other states, can’t be sued by employees over disability discrimination. The Virginian-Pilot has an article profiling the case of Antonio Passaro, a special agent who developed PTSD after investigating child pornography for several years. When his requests for a transfer were ignored, he was ultimately fired. When he tried to sue the state, he found out the state was protected by “sovereign immunity.” Kevin Martingayle, the attorney who represented Passaro, said employees of the state are “falsely assured that they have meaningful protection from various forms of discrimination.” -The Virginian-Pilot  
  2. Gun legislation passes through Senate committee– The final piece of legislation in Gov. Northam’s gun safety package narrowly passed through a Senate committee on a 7-6 vote. The legislation would require a gun owner to report a lost or stolen gun 24 hours after it goes missing and now heads to the Senate floor for a vote. The House version of the bill already passed last week. The committee also backed SB 543 from Sen. John Edwards (D-Roanoke), requiring state police to perform criminal background checks at gun shows across the state. -Richmond Times-Dispatch 
  3. More shake-ups in Virginia newspapers— Several editors and reporters from The Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press are leaving the paper as part of Tribune Publishing’s company-wide layoffs. The company announced in mid-January that it would be offering voluntary separation incentive plans to all employees with at least eight years of employment at the company. This is the second round of buyouts within Tribune Publishing, the company underwent a previous round of buyouts a little more than a year ago. -The Virginian-Pilot 
  4. Richmond’s homeless population up– Richmond’s homeless population increased 10% last year, jumping from 497 people in January 2019 to 549 last month. It is the first year the homeless population has increased since 2011. While concerning, the number of homeless in the area is still far lower than a peak number of 1,150 homeless people in the region in 2009. -The Roanoke Times 
  5. VMI lawsuit— The Virginia Military Institute is being sued by a former student who claims he was waterboarded, physically assaulted, and forced to wrestle while partially clothed. According to the student, the incidents ultimately led to his withdrawal from the school. The lawsuit references the school’s history of racial and gender-based discrimination, including a 2014 finding by U.S. Education Department’s finding that the school permitted a hostile work environment for female students. -The Washington Post