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…

A Presidential candidate was asked to prom, the Queer Eye cast hit D.C. to support the Equality Act, and Del. Ibraheem Samirah (D-86) lays out his case for a Virginia version of the Green New Deal.

5 things you need to know today

  1. Democratic-controlled House passes Violence Against Women Act – Despite the fact that 157 Republicans voted against re-authorizing the Violence Against Women Act, the bill passed the House by a vote of 263-158. The legislation, originally passed in 1994, authorizes hundreds of millions of dollars annually to fund programs that support victims of sexual assault, domestic abuse, and stalking. The revised bill includes a new provision that closes the so-called “boyfriend loophole” and bars gun sales to convicted abusers of current or former dating partners and anyone found guilty of a stalking misdemeanor or under a one-party restraining order.  All four members of Virginia’s Republican delegation voted against the bill, while six Virginia Democrats voted for it. Rep. Donald McEachin (D-04) did not vote but expressed his support in a tweet.
  2. Saudi Arabia arrests Virginia resident – Saudi Arabi detained eight people including a Virginia resident, Salah al-Haidar, the son of a prominent women’s rights activist in Saudi Arabia. Al-Haidar has a home in Vienna, Virginia, though he currently lives with his wife and child in Saudi Arabia. The arrests targeted individuals supportive of women’s rights, those with ties to already imprisoned activists, and others who are perceived as critics of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. In a tweet, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine said that “this is the latest in Saudi Arabia’s appalling human rights violations, yet the Trump administration continues to turn a blind eye.”
  3. 212 days living in trees to oppose the MVP – Two Virginians have spent the last 212 days living in trees in Elliston, Virginia to oppose the construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The controversial pipeline is the subject of a lawsuit filed by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the State Water Control Board, which alleges that Mountain Valley has committed more than 300 violations of regulations. Local environmental groups oppose the pipeline, which will increase dependence on fossil fuels and generate more polluting greenhouse gases. Mountain Valley has filed for an injunction against the tree-sitters, but the judge has yet to rule on the request.
  4. Richmond left out of transportation deal – The Virginia House of Delegates passed a series of amendments from Gov. Ralph Northam this week that will fund a variety of transportation projects, including long-awaited improvements to I-81. While the news was cause for celebration around most of the state, Richmond was left out of the deal and will not receive any dedicated funding for local transportation. Former Del. Manoli Loupassi, a Republican, who represented portions of Richmond, blames mistrust between the local government and the local delegation in the General Assembly. That said, Richmond is still expected to see some residual benefits from the deal, which was primarily promoted by lawmakers residing along the I-81 corridor.
  5. Norfolk challenges state law in an attempt to remove Confederate monument – Norfolk attorneys are planning to challenge a state law they say prevents the city from removing an 80-foot Confederate monument from downtown Norfolk. The law in question makes it illegal to move war monuments, including those dedicated to the Confederacy. This is the latest in a protracted battle that began after the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville. In the weeks following the white supremacist gathering Norfolk’s city council passed a resolution to move the monument to Elmwood Cemetery, but some city officials said recent lawsuits gave them pause. The court’s decision could impact future decisions on Confederate monuments across the Commonwealth.