Welcome to today’s edition of the Dogwood Daily. We’ve got all the Virginia news you need to know coming right up.

But First…

It’s finally here. You know what I’m talking about. The return of Game of Thrones. After a nearly two-year break, the HBO series finally returns this Sunday evening for its eighth and final season. In the meantime, if you can’t wait that long and need your fix of epic sagas, Disney released the new Star Wars trailer today.

5 Things you need to know today…

  1. Beto O’Rourke campaigning in Virginia next week – We’re still eleven months out from Virginia’s Democratic presidential primary, but if you’re curious to learn more about Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, you’ll have a chance next week. The former Texas congressman will make several appearances around the Commonwealth on Tuesday and Wednesday. O’Rourke will hold events in Henrico, Prince William, and Fairfax Counties, while also stopping in Alexandria, Charlottesville, Fredericksburg, Hampton, Norfolk, and Williamsburg. O’Rourke captured the nation’s attention last year during his near-upset of GOP Sen. Ted Cruz in Texas and joined the presidential field in March.
  2. Democratic Sens. Warner and Kaine announce $43m for Virginia housing and infrastructure – As housing affordability become a bigger issue in the Commonwealth, both state and federal governments are stepping in. At the federal level, Virginia’s Democratic Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner announced more than $43 million in federal funding that will be spread across 26 municipalities in Virginia to support affordable housing development. The funding was awarded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Public Housing Capital Fund and will be put towards the development, financing, and modernization of public housing developments. The cities receiving the most money are Richmond, which will receive $11.2 million and Norfolk, which will get $8 million.
  3. Warner and Kaine also introduce bill to cut taxes for workers and families – The Virginia senators also introduced the Working Families Tax Relief Act this week. The bill is estimated to increase the incomes of over a million Virginia families by cutting taxes as wages remain stagnant and the cost of childcare ticks steadily upwards. The bill would accomplish this by expanding Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC). In a press release, Sen. Kaine said that “expanding these tax credits can finally offer hard working families the resources to ensure their financial security.” 
  4. Portsmouth will no longer prosecute most misdemeanor marijuana possession cases – Joining a growing chorus of prosecutors, Portsmouth’s top prosecutor Stephanie Morales is opting out of prosecuting most marijuana possession cases. The city’s prosecutors began dismissing pending cases this week, though defendants will still have to pay court costs of around $165 each. Morales said she made the move in order to better allocate her staff’s limited resources to cases involving violent crime. Morales’ announcement does not fully decriminalize marijuana in the city, and prosecutors might pursue misdemeanor possession charges if the defendant was also charged with a violent crime.
  5. Richmond-based photographer placed on DHS watchlist for work with migrants – Richmond-based photographer and videographer Nathaniel Dennison was one of 59 people included on a Department of Homeland security watchlist as a suspected Antifa organizer, a label Dennison rejects. Dennison said he went to Mexico in December to document migrant experiences for his nonprofit, which teaches young people how to make short documentary films. The watchlist has drawn criticism from human rights groups and Democrats, who say the Trump administration is targeting people who disagree with its immigration policies or sympathize with Central American migrants.