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…

Pawpaws (a.k.a. the Appalachian banana, hillybilly mango or Quaker delight) may become Virginia’s official state fruit. The Virginia Mercury tracks the wild fruit’s recent rise in popularity.

Five things you need to know today …

  1. General Assembly passes ERA– The General Assembly’s House of Delegates and Senate passed the Equal Rights Amendment today, making Virginia the 38th and final state needed to add the amendment to the Constitution. The ERA amendment was one of the first items of business for Democrats, after Republicans killed the legislation in committee last year. Critics say the deadline for ratification has long passed, but supporters are planning to challenge that position in court. — The Washington Post
  2. Northam expected to ban weapons from Capitol Square ahead of rally– Gov. Ralph Northam is planning to declare a temporary emergency today, banning all weapons from Capitol Square ahead of a massive pro-gun rally planned next week. An unnamed official said the decision came after threats of violence and extremism from outside the state. Virginia law enforcement officials were heavily criticized for their planning and response to a 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville that left one person dead and several injured. Northam’s announcement is expected to include a ban on helmets and shields, which protestors carried at the Charlottesville rally. -The Roanoke Times 
  3. Possible regulation on skill games— Sen. Janet Howell, D-Fairfax, the new chairwoman of the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee, vowed to propose legislation banning electronic “skill” games. The announcement comes after the Virginia Lottery blamed the games for a $26.2 million loss in profits just in the first five months of this fiscal year alone. Howell also signaled that she’s open to offers from the game vendors to start paying taxes. The issue is of particular concern in the state as lottery profits help pay for education in the state. -Richmond Times-Dispatch
  4. Metrobus strike deal reached– A deal has been reached to end the Metrobus strike in Northern Virginia, which has either eliminated or reduced service for thousands of riders since late October. Employees of the private contractor Transdev reached a tentative agreement on a contract Tuesday. Service will not fully resume until they vote to ratify the agreement, however. A vote is scheduled for Thursday. -WTOP 
  5. Hampton Roads Jail settles wrongful death suit– Hampton Roads Regional Jail offered to pay a $650,000 settlement in the wrongful death of William Otis Thrower Sr. Meanwhile, the jail’s medical provider, Correct Care Solutions, will pay $250,000. Thrower had complained to jail staff repeatedly before his death in March 2016, according the lawsuit filed by his family. This is the third wrongful death settlement for the jail in the past 17 months. -The Virginian-Pilot