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Top 5 things you need to know today…
- Federal judge reverses decision on abortion ruling — In a truly surprising turn of events, U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson canceled his own decision to strike down a Virginia law that said only physicians could perform first-trimester abortions. Hudson decided he needed to hear more information during the trial, which begins Monday.
- Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy launches her own PAC to help elect Democrats — Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (D-Prince William) has formed a political action committee to help elect Democrats across the Commonwealth, making her the second female legislator in as many weeks to do so. Carroll Foy told the Washington Post that the goal of her Virginia for Everyone PAC is to help Democrats gain control of both the House of Delegates and state Senate in this fall’s elections, but many observers also believe it signals her intention to run for governor in 2021.
- Virginia public schools are now tobacco free — Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bill on Tuesday that bans the use of tobacco and nicotine vapor products on public school grounds, school buses and at all school-sponsored events. The new effort to protect children’s health comes on the heels of the state raising the minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 years old. The law takes effect on July 1 and comes after a 2018 report showed that 37% of 12th graders used a vape in the last year.
- Arlington County renames Jefferson Davis Highway — The Commonwealth Transportation Board voted on Wednesday to scrap the Jefferson Davis Highway moniker, changing the official name of U.S. Route 1 to Richmond Highway. The change, which will go into effect this fall, had been advocated for for years. Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey said the name symbolized white supremacy in a Jim Crow south, and Del. Mark Levine (D-Arlington) praised the name change.
- Virginia Republicans embrace offshore drilling — Despite mountains of evidence showing that offshore drilling is devastating for the environment, all four Republicans in Virginia’s congressional delegation, including Rep. Ben Cline (R-06) and Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-05), have embraced President Trump’s plans to drill off Virginia’s coast. While Republicans have mostly brushed aside environmental concerns, Democrats in the Commonwealth continue to oppose offshore oil and gas drilling.