Delegate Mark Keam - Virginia's 35th House District

Richmond Report: Third Week


Dear Friend:

Three weeks down, and four more to go! Things are moving fast here in Richmond as the Virginia legislative session heads toward crossover.

Next week is the last one for all House bills to be voted out of committees so they can then be considered by the Senate during the second half of the session.

In recent years, there have been one or two hot topics that usually dominate the General Assembly such as ethics reform in 2014, transportation funding in 2013, or invasive ultrasound in 2012.

So far this year, there haven't been many issues that have grabbed the headlines. Next week, however, some House subcommittees will address two recent controversies — sexual assaults on college campuses and ethics in government — so you may hear more about these issues soon.

I'm pleased to report that a few of my bills are making good progress.

House Bill 2090 would add new training standards for restaurants to ensure that appropriate restaurant workers are aware of food allergy and safety issues.

I worked on this bill with Claire Troy, a young constituent from Vienna who suffers from severe food allergies, and I was very proud to have testify in support of the bill in a House committee. As a result of her outstanding presentation, the bill passed both the subcommittee and committee unanimously and is now on the House floor.

House Bill 2068 would increase from $15,000 to $23,850 the maximum income that a senior citizen can earn in order to enroll and take college courses.

In 1974, Virginia passed the Senior Citizens Higher Education Act to allow low income elderly citizens to take college classes. At that time, the means test for income was set at $10,000, which was increased in 2002 to $15,000.

Given the slow economic recovery and the fact that many people now push off their retirement, I thought it was time to increase the income level again to expand the pool of low-income older Virginians who can qualify. This will also allow more of our elderly learn new skills if they want to pursue a second career or go back to work after retirement.

House Bill 2093 would amend local ordinances to require landlords of apartments or condos to change the locks on doors when old tenants move out and new tenants move in.

This common-sense requirement will enhance public safety in our communities by ensuring that former tenants cannot use their old keys to return to their former apartments. And new tenants will have peace of mind that their landlords have, in fact, changed their locks as required by law.

House Bill 2087 would allow court-appointed lawyers for parents in tough child welfare cases to seek additional compensation from the courts for their services.

Under current law, a lawyer appointed by the court to represent parents in a child welfare case is paid $120 per case. That's right, $120 per case, not per hour! That means a lawyer who works on a case for weeks, months or even years is compensated a total of $120 for all of his or her services.

I'm a member of the Virginia Commission on Youth, which studied this issue last year, and made a recommendation that we allow lawyers who handle especially tough child welfare cases to apply for an additional $120 if courts believe the additional fee is warranted.

A few bills I introduced on behalf of the Town of Vienna didn't do as well…

Next weekend, State Senator Chap Petersen and I will be holding a public town hall in Vienna where we can answer your questions about any topic. I hope to see you there!

In the meantime, please don't hesitate to contact me with your questions or comments by calling 804-698-1035 or emailing DelMKeam@house.virginia.gov

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I'd like to invite you to attend my town hall with Senator Chap Petersen:

February 7, 2014
9:00-10:30 A.M.
American Legion Post 180
330 N. Center St.
Vienna, VA 22180

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