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.

But first…

Happy New Year! Here’s to a great 2020! If you’re dreading the inevitable rush of resolutioners at your local gym, WTOP has compiled a helpful list of how to make it through January.

Five things you need to know today …

  1. Voter turnout up on off-year elections– Voter turnout for off-year elections in Virginia has surged since President Trump took office. Forty-eight percent of the electorate showed up to vote in 2017’s gubernatorial race compared to 40 percent in 2009 when President Obama was in office. Many analysts believe that voters see local races as referendums on President Trump and his policies. Grant Fox, the spokesman for the Democratic Party of Virginia, credited Trump for the Democrat’s big wins in the last election, saying that “Virginians are taking any chance they can get to stick it to Donald Trump and his party at the polls.” -The Washington Post
  2. Hospital systems announce higher minimum wage– Sentara Healthcare and Bon Secours Mercy Health both announced they will be increasing their lowest-paid employees’ wages to $15 an hour. About 800 Bon Secours employees and 5,700 Sentara employees will get a raise under the new policy. Virginia’s minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour, although the newly-elected Democratic majority has vowed to tackle the issue in this year’s General Assembly session. -DailyPress 
  3. Filler-Corn steps down at consulting firm– House Speaker-elect Eileen Filler-Corn is stepping down at a consulting firm in an effort to alleviate potential conflicts of interest. Filler-Corn was the government relations director at Albers & Company, which specializes in health care and energy lobbying. Jake Rubenstein, Fuller-Corn’s communications director, said his boss plans on opening her own consulting business, which won’t offer lobbying services. -Richmond Times-Dispatch 
  4. Groups push for abolition of the death penalty– Opponents of the death penalty are hoping that the new Democratic majority will take action to abolish the practice. Virginia has executed nearly 1,400 people in its history, more than any other state in the country. Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty are pushing for a ban on the practice, and a bill addressing the issue was recently filed by Del. Lee Carter (D-Manassas). Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center said if Virginia were to abolish the death penalty, it would be the first Southern state to do so voluntarily. -WTOP 
  5. New law takes effect on tampon tax rate– A new law went into place on January 1, lowering the sales tax on tampons and other menstrual supplies. The tax percentage was lowered from 5.3 percent to 2.5 percent, the same rate applies to food. The new rate will also apply to other essential hygiene products, including diapers, disposable undergarments, pads, menstrual cups, and pantyliners. -The Washington Post