Welcome to today’s edition of the Dogwood Daily. We’ve got all the Virginia news you need to know coming right up.
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5 things you need to know today
- Sen. Kaine offers up new healthcare plan – While Republicans continue to try and take away healthcare from millions of Americans, Democrats continue to offer up proposal after proposal to expand and improve coverage. Now, Virginia’s own Tim Kaine has joined the fray with his “Medicare-X” proposal, which would include a government-run option for health insurance in the hopes of expanding coverage to more Americans. Under the bill, Americans could either keep their employer-based insurance or purchase insurance on the Obamacare exchanges, which would grant them access to the Medicare network of doctors, among other benefits.
- Conversion therapy ban around the corner – Experts widely agree that conversion therapy is immoral, dangerous and completely ineffective. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have banned the practice, and Virginia may soon join the list. The Commonwealth’s Board of Psychology recently concluded a 30-day public comment period on a proposed guidance document, which goes in effect on May 1, that would ban psychologists from using conversion therapy on minors. The majority of the 500 comments supported banning the practice. Earlier this year, two controversial bills surrounding conversion therapy were killed in the Republican-controlled state Senate.
- Fairfax County public schools have some explaining to do – After reporting zero incidents of students being isolated or physically restrained in schools for years, Fairfax County school officials are now backtracking and reporting thousands of such incidents. On Tuesday evening, the school system revealed the early findings of a review that found 1,679 incidents of seclusion or restraint being used on 203 different students during the 2017-2018 school year. One student was reportedly isolated more than 100 times. School board members have called for regulatory changes regarding seclusion and restraints, and Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bill requiring the state to issue new regulations on these controversial policies. Meanwhile, many federal lawmakers, including Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), want to ban the practice of seclusion altogether.
- Two Virginia high schools join teen mental health pilot program – Charlottesville High School and Freedom High School in Chantilly were selected to join six other schools across the country in a program sponsored by the National Council on Behavioral Health and Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation. The Teen Mental Health First Aid program will teach students about mental illnesses and addictions and help them identify and respond to friends who may be developing mental health or substance abuse issues. Among middle and high school students, one out of every five females and one out of every ten males had suicidal thoughts in the past year, according to the 2017 Virginia Youth Survey.
- Anti-Choice demonstrators rally in Richmond – An estimated 6,500 demonstrators gathered at Capitol Square on Wednesday to protest a bill that would have eliminated some restrictions on
late termabortions. The event, which was affiliated with the national March for Life, was the largest anti-abortion demonstration at the state Capitol in recent years. While the bill caused controversy and ultimately failed, a clear majority of Virginians actually support the idea. According to a recent Washington Post-Schar School poll, 60% of Virginia voters believe abortion in the third trimester should be legal if the woman’s health is at risk.