Delegate Mark Keam - Virginia's 35th House District

Delegates Keam and LeMunyon to introduce transparency bill


FairfaxTimes.com

http://www.fairfaxtimes.com/cms/story.php?id=2774

Del. Jim LeMunyon (R-Dist. 67) represents parts of Fairfax and Loudoun counties.

Tuesday January 4, 2011

No shortage of issues for Virginia lawmakers

The 2011 Virginia General Assembly session begins a 45-day session Jan. 12, and will conclude at the end of February. Virginia is on a two-year budget cycle, and the 2011-12 budget was passed one year ago. This year, we will take another look at the two-year budget and produce some fine-tuning, but will exclude any new taxes. Unlike other states and the federal government, we can rest assured that Virginia will maintain a balanced budget.

Transportation: The recent audit of the Virginia Department of Transportation found more than $1 billion in idle funds that could be applied to transportation projects. In addition, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) has proposed accelerating the use of previously authorized transportation bonds. What remains to be determined, however, is the share of these funds that will be allocated for congestion relief in Northern Virginia. Ensuring that Northern Virginia receives its fair share will be a top priority for me and other Northern Virginia members of the General Assembly. I will introduce legislation requiring that transportation funding for Northern Virginia be dedicated to projects that give us the biggest bang for the buck in terms of congestion relief.

Education: I will introduce a bill to give local school boards more flexibility in determining the school calendar, specifically, to provide a local option to open schools up to two weeks before Labor Day and close up to two weeks earlier in June. During 2010, I visited with 15 school principals in the 67th District, all of whom support this idea. One benefit is to better align standardized testing dates with the end of the school year, so students have more time to prepare for tests. Related to higher education, I expect to sponsor or cosponsor legislation to increase the percentage of in-state students at Virginia's public colleges and universities.

Good Government: Del. Mark Keam (D-Dist. 35) and I will re-introduce a bill to require that voting records of General Assembly members be made public on the General Assembly's website, with a feature to look up records by member name. This bill passed the House in 2010 on a bipartisan 86-13 vote, but was killed in the Virginia Senate. Citizens of Virginia deserve this kind of government transparency, so Keam and I will lead the effort again in 2011. In the meantime, I will publish my voting record weekly during the session on my website at www.LeMunyon.com. I was the first member of the Virginia General Assembly to make my voting record public in this way.

Redistricting: With the results of the 2010 census, the boundaries of all 100 Virginia House districts, 40 state Senate districts and 11 congressional districts will be redrawn so that each district has approximately the same population. In 2010, I cosponsored a bill with Del. Ken Plum (D-Dist. 36) to create a bipartisan commission to determine how district lines should be drawn. The bill did not pass, but the fact that the Virginia House is controlled by Republicans and the Virginia Senate by Democrats will likely result in a bipartisan outcome.

Immigration: Arizona received attention in 2010 for passing a law to restrict illegal immigration, largely due to the fact that the federal government has not assumed more responsibility for addressing the issue. Virginia's illegal immigration laws are among the strictest in the nation. However, I expect that we will consider legislation regarding this topic during the 2011 session. As a nation of immigrants, I support legal immigration. As a nation that lives under the rule of law, I also believe laws must be obeyed and enforced, including immigration laws.

I welcome comments on these and other issues at DelJLeMunyon@house.virginia.gov or 703-264-1432.

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