Providence District Council Newsletter includes Report from Delegate Keam
The Providence District Council (PDC) is a non-partisan civic organization that provides a forum for associations to express their views on major issues of common concern.
In the recent past, the Council has had a number of resolutions addressing land use, the County budget, bond referenda, affordable housing, transportation, zoning violations and cut thru traffic. Council meetings are usually held on the third Tuesday of the month. Â Unless otherwise noted, meetings are not held in July and August.
PDC publishes this Newsletter on a monthly basis in both hard copy and electronic format. Â The newsletter's purpose is to provide information on important issues in Providence District and the County that may not be readily available elsewhere. Suggestions are always welcome.
Chair: Denise Rodgers, Vice Chair: Nancy Spielberg, Treasurer: Julia Hutchins, Secretary: Vivian Morgan-Mendez, Newsletter Editor: Becky Cate, Budget Cmte: Kosmo Tatalias
Report from Richmond: 2011 Regular Session
-- Del. Mark L. Keam, 35th DistrictThis year's General Assembly session was brief but productive. Â Although we were in Richmond for only 47 days, the House of Delegates passed 505 bills out of 1,135 total bills introduced, while the Senate passed 387 out of 747. Â All of these successful bills plus the variety of House and Senate commendations and study resolutions that passed means that Governor Bob McDonnell now has 1,599 separate measures sitting on his desk.
Among the bills awaiting the Governor's signature are six of mine, which passed unanimously by both chambers. These include:
- HB 2279 helps military veterans trained in emergency medicine find similar civilian sector jobs by requiring the Commissioner of Health to consider military training in certification process to become an Emergency Medical Technician in Virginia. Support included the American Legion and Virginia Healthcare and Hospitals Assoc.
- HB 2278 implements the Constitutional Amendment which was approved by Virginia voters in November 2010. It authorizes local governments to provide real property tax relief for qualified elderly or totally and permanently disabled homeowners.
- HB 2277 adopts a spending-cut recommendation from the Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring by requiring citizens who volunteer on state boards or commissions to receive travel reimbursements electronically instead of through costly paper process.
Other successful bills I led or helped lead as co-patron dealt with issues such as consumer protection, regulatory relief for small businesses, government transparency, higher education, healthcare, telecommuting, economic opportunities, job creation, juvenile offender reentry, human trafficking, and public safety.
Two significant legislative results from this session are the unanimous passage of amendments to the biennial budget and the overwhelming and bipartisan support for the $4 billion transportation package that Gov. McDonnell proposed after his liquor store privatization plan stalled.
As I have described in more detail on my website, I voted for both measures after they were amended. Â The final budget included over $4 million in additional funding for Fairfax County schools, including my amendment to add $66,265 in state funds to increase the enrollment cap for Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.
The budget also included a version of my amendment to repeal an unfair accelerated sales tax payment that the state imposed on small businesses last year. Â My amendment provides relief to 80% of business owners who otherwise would have been forced to pay their June 2011 sales taxes during the same month instead of in July.
As for the transportation bill, I do not have enough space in this article to go over all the pros and cons, but I have written about it on my website www.www.markkeam.com. Â The short version of why I voted for the bill is because if we reject it now, there will not be another transportation proposal for the foreseeable future.
While I strongly believe that we need more than a onetime $4 billion debt-laden shot in the arm to address the massive traffic problems we face in Northern Virginia, I voted to gain half a loaf now with the understanding that Governor McDonnell and the General Assembly will come together again next year to put a longer term solution on the table that will address a sustainable and dedicated source of transportation revenue.
On April 6, the legislature will reconvene in Richmond for the annual veto session to deal with any bills that the Governor returns to the Chambers. However, unlike in most other years, the General Assembly will also use that week in April to vote on the redistricting plans for the state House and Senate legislative districts. Â The new lines to be drawn this year will have a direct impact on who will represent which Providence precincts in the General Assembly and in Congress for the next decade.
While redistricting is inherently political and determined through a partisan legislative process, there are some limited opportunities for the public to weigh in and to demand fairness and transparency.
Gov. McDonnell created an "Independent Bipartisan Advisory Commission on Redistricting", which will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, March 15, 7 pm at George Mason University.
For questions about this meeting, contact Steven Jones at (804) 201-5174.
If you have any questions about this session or anything else related to our state government, please do not hesitate to contact me at (703) 350-3911 or DelMKeam@house.virginia.gov.
And please sign up to receive regular email updates from my website at www.www.markkeam.com.
Delegate Keam represents Virginia's 35th House of Delegates district, located entirely in Fairfax County. The District includes: Town of Vienna and portions of Tysons, Dunn Loring, Wolf Trap, Oakton and Fair Oaks. Del. Keam sits on the House Finance and on the House Militia, Police and Public Safety committees. His website is www.www.markkeam.com.