Northam adds more people to tax rebate plan; Roanoke-area localities want to sue opioid makers; peak cherry blossom viewing moved to April and more headlines

Our daily roundup of headlines from Virginia and elsewhere.

• Gov. Ralph Northam says he’s sending lawmakers a budget amendment that would give one-time $110 tax refunds ($220 for couples) to 151,000 additional taxpayers, most of whom are earning less than $50,000 a year. – Richmond Times-Dispatch

• Ahead of his midnight deadline to act on legislation last night, Northam also amended two pieces of legislation with “race inequities” in mind. His amendment reviving hands-free driving requires the state to track citations to make sure minorities aren’t unfairly targeted. And he sent lawmakers a budget amendment that ends the practice of license suspensions for unpaid court costs, which disproportionally affects the poor. – The Washington Post

• And he vetoed a bill that would have blocked convicted felons from being notary publics, calling the legislation “antithetical to the concept of restorative justice.” – Associated Press

• Finally, in a move that even surprised the state’s lone advocate for registered sex offenders, Northam stepped in to amend a bill requiring people on the list to announce their status at emergency evacuation shelters. His tweaks make the bill “a bit less punitive.” – Daily Press

• Charlottesville-car-attacker James Fields signaled in a filing he might plead guilty today of federal hate crimes in the murder that killed Heather Heyer and injured dozens. – Daily Progress

• Va. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner joined their fellow Democrats in squashing a Republican effort to bring the Green New Deal to the floor. – The Roanoke TImes

• Officials in Virginia Beach are proposing tax and fee increases to address stormwater and flooding. The additional revenue would not even begin to address sea level rise, which studies have shown will require at least $2 billion in investment. – The Virginian-Pilot

• Roanoke, Roanoke County and Salem are joining dozens of localities around the state in suing opioid manufacturers for damages. – The Roanoke Times

• PolitiFact says former Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s assertion that under his watch the state made “the largest investment ever in K-12 education” is mostly false. – WCVE 

• The National Park Service in D.C. moved up their estimate for peak cherry blossoms to April 1. – The Washington Post

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