Latest E-News from Delegate Keam: Homestretch
Happy Valentine's Day!Â I was reminded of this special occasion today when I walked onto the floor of the House ChamberÂ and saw many of my colleagues donning red ties, red dresses, and some even red hats.Â This is apparently one of the many traditions of the Virginia General Assembly, to dress in certain colors on certain days.
Another tradition of the oldest continuous legislative body is the shortness of our sessions!Â We are only two weeks away from adjourning the regular session of 2011.Â That means that we only have this weekÂ and next week to complete work on the hundreds of Senate bills that came to the House, plus adopt the final budget that has to come back from conference.
We will be returning to Richmond on Wednesday, April 6, for a one-day "reconvene" session whenÂ theÂ House and Senate will consider any changes that the Governor wantsÂ included before he signs bills into law or vetoes them.
Since 2011 is a redistricting year following census, the General Assembly will also begin a special session immediately after the veto day in AprilÂ to consider new districts for the state offices weÂ hold.Â WithÂ many changes in Virginia's population over the past ten years, we anticipate significant modifications to the 100 House and 40 Senate district boundaries from the current lines.
For everyone who currently lives in our 35th District, let me anticipate your question and respond by saying that I have no idea what ourÂ district will look like, or even if I will continue to be your Delegate...
We willÂ learn of the new district lines in April, but the maps will not become official until the U.S. Department of Justice concludes its legal review under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which could occur as late as June or July.Â We will thenÂ hold a primary election on Tuesday, August 23, followed by the general election on Tuesday, November 8.
Since I do not serve on the House Privileges and Elections Committee, I will have no input on the redistricting process until the legislation is on the House floor.Â Therefore, I have decided to not concern myself with that process at this time, but instead, continue to focus on policy-making and constituent services.
As you can see on the column to the right, I have to make sure that all of my bills and budget amendments that came out of the House also make it through the other Chamber.Â The next few days will continue to be hectic for all of us in Richmond!
Thank you for your interest in our work.Â I am humbled and honored to serve you.Â Please visit my website often for other updates and let me knowÂ if you have any questions or comments.Â
Mark L. Keam
P.S.Â I held my second Town Hall meeting in Vienna this Saturday.Â Here's anÂ article in the Vienna PatchÂ about some of the issues we discussed, as well as a separateÂ interview in the Vienna Connection with my thoughts on this legislative session.
DELEGATE KEAM'S ACCOMPLISHMENTS
At the "crossover" point of the 2011 Session of the Virginia General Assembly, six bills and two budget amendments sponsored by Delegate Mark Keam have passed the House of Delegates and are now being considered by the Senate.
HB 2279 helps veterans experienced in emergency medicine find similar civilian sector jobs by requiring the Commissioner of Health to consider military training in determining the requirements for certification as Emergency Medical Technician.
HB 2278 implements the Constitutional Amendment approved by Virginia voters in 2010 to authorize local governments to provide property tax relief for eligible and qualified elderly or totally disabled homeowners.
HB 2277 adopts cost-saving recommendation from the Governor's Commission on Government Reform to eliminate processing paper checks by requiring volunteer citizens who serve on state boards or commissions to receive travel reimbursements electronically.
HB 2272 creates a tolling of a statue of limitations to allow local law enforcement more time to prosecute unlicensed building contractors who might harm unknowing consumers.
HB 2271 exempts computer and digital forensics experts from having to hold unrelated private investigator license in order to prepare and present expert testimony in litigation.
HB2276 (combined with HB 2036 by Del. Chris Peace) implements a recommendation from the Governor's Prison Reentry Council to provide local jurisdictions with more time to facilitate the successful reintegration of ex-juvenile offenders who return to their community.
Budget Amendment Item 3-5.08 #1h reverses onerous and unpopular accelerated sales tax requirement by exempting most small businesses (those with annual sales less than $50 million) from having to prepay their June sales tax receipts one month early.
Budget Amendment Item 132 #3h increases the cap on state aid to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology by providing additional $66,000 per year.