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. And if you’re a fan, please forward to three friends who need to know what’s going on in the Commonwealth and tell them to subscribe here

But First…

Two churches in rural Virginia are caught in controversy tied to Trump’s racist rhetoric. Pastor Earnie Lucas of the Friendship Baptist Church in Appotamox is defending his decision to post “AMERICA: LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT” on a sign in the front lawn. Two hours away in Hopewell, Virginia, is another church, also named “Friendship Baptist Church.” Pastor Norwood Carson of the Hopewell church says he is also getting angry calls from people confusing his church with Lucas’. “We are not that church,” Carson said. NPR’s Sarah McCammon has the story.

5 Things you need to know today

  1. Thousands more drivers licenses reinstated across Virginia, but pace is slow – Civil rights advocates consider reinstating driving privileges for people with suspended licenses due to unpaid fees a big win for low-income Virginians. Thirty-thousand reinstatements were automatically processed when the law took effect, and since then nearly 8,000 more Virginians have regained their licenses. But there are still tens of thousands of people who are eligible, and with the law set to expire in June 2020 advocates worry there is not enough public awareness around the opportunity for reinstatement. Mel Leonor reports for the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
  2. Judge penalizes white nationalists in Charlottesville case – A federal judge sanctioned white nationalists for refusing to participate in the discovery process in a case connected to the deadly attacks in Charlottesville two years ago. The judge said “more drastic sanctions” could ensure if their behavior, which has held up the litigation process, does not change. The Associated Press reports.
  3. Virginia Reps. Spanberger, Luria lead Democrats’ moderate “squad” alternative – The Democratic party is often portrayed as veering leftward. But a cadre of moderate, first-term Democratic women with deep military experience who flipped Republican seats last year are also gaining in popularity. The full group of five, called the “Task Force Sentry,” includes Virginia Reps. Abigail Spanberger and Elaine Luria. One of the biggest differences between these women and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and co. — they don’t say Trump’s name. Check out the story in AP News.
  4. With nowhere to go after discharge from Virginia mental hospitals, patients opt to stay – Virginia’s mental hospitals are having trouble finding a place for patients to go once their treatment is complete. The result? Patients are choosing to remain in their hospital beds. That’s led to a “dangerous” overcrowding situation at facilities across the state. Katie O’Connor reports for The Virginia Mercury.
  5. UVA admits student-athletes recruited in exchange for financial gifts to school – The University of Virginia disclosed Friday that some of its student-athletes were targeted by recruiters because of the prospect that their admission would result in financial donations to the school. UVA said in a statement that fundraising goals may have compromised the integrity of its athletic recruiting process. Read the story by Nick Anderson in the Washington Post.

From the Gram