Richmond Report: First Week
After a hectic first week of the 2014 legislative session, I'm about to leave Richmond to go back home and see my family.
I'll be back here real soon, though, as tomorrow, my friend Terry McAuliffe will be taking his oath of office to become the 72nd Governor of the Virginia.
Having served as one of his campaign co-chairs last year, I am excited to attend the inauguration ceremonies and events taking place on Saturday. If you can't join us in Richmond, you can watch the swearing-in ceremony live through the General Assembly's website: http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/.
I also want to share my first press release that announces my new committee assignment and the bills I introduced this week. Beginning next week, I will report to you on the progress of my legislative agenda.
Thank you for your interest in my work! Mark
Richmond, VA - Delegate Mark L. Keam (D-Fairfax) took the oath of office at noon on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 to begin his third term in the Virginia House of Delegates representing the 35th District.
When he first came to Richmond in January 2010, Delegate Keam was assigned the most junior ranking position — number 100 out of 100 members in the House. This week, he moved up to number 64 in seniority as a result of last November's and recent special elections.
On the first day of session, Speaker of the House William J. Howell added Keam to the House Courts of Justice Committee in addition to his ongoing memberships on three other House committees: (1) Finance, (2) Education, and (3) Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources. It is unusual for a member of the minority party to serve on four committees. In fact, out of 33 Democratic members of the House, only four delegates hold as many as four committee memberships.
The Courts of Justice Committee considers matters relating to Virginia state courts, such as nominations of judges and justices. This powerful committee also receives more legislation than any other committee in the House, and addresses criminal laws, contracts, juvenile and domestic relations, eminent domain, fiduciaries, garnishments, magistrates, mechanics' and other liens, property and conveyances as well as wills and estates.
On the first day of session, Keam introduced ten bills that address a wide range of problems facing Virginians and their state government:
- HB 829 would prohibit the sale or use of automated sales suppression devices, which are electronic tools that help criminals falsify records of cash registers to avoid paying the full amount of sales taxes owed to the state.
- HB 830 would prohibit any employer from denying initial employment based on the applicant's military status, in an effort to reduce unacceptably high rate of unemployment among our military veterans.
- HB 831 would create a working group to study and make recommendations related to the provision of care for individuals with dementia residing in nursing homes and facilities in the Commonwealth, as more and more Virginians live longer while facing a shortage of qualified caretakers.
- HB 832 would create a working group to study the effectiveness of communication and cooperation among law enforcement and behavioral health services providers in an effort to create a seamless web of services for all Virginians who face dangerous mental health challenges.
- HB 833 would create a new category of leave for workers called, "Safe Days," which would allow employees to take paid days off to seek medical attention or counseling assistance should they become victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
- HB 834 would expand the existing Virginia law that prohibits harassment by computer to also include bullying behavior as that term is already defined in Virginia law, to address "cyber bullying."
- HB 835 would add the presence of any underground pipelines or storage tanks carrying hazardous material such as natural gas or oil to the list of items to be disclosed by owners or sellers of residential properties, to raise awareness of such potential hazards to homeowners.
- HB 836 would provide workers with the option of receiving their pay from their employers through prepaid debit cards, instead of the current policy that allows employers to choose the debit card payment option for their workers.
- HB 837 would amend the Virginia Freedom of Information Act by requiring government agencies to post on their websites a range of charges that they may assess to members of the public for complying with FOIA requests.
- HB 838 would address an inconsistency in the voting process by treating all absentee ballots to be accepted the same way, whether they were mailed to Virginia from within the Unites States or from overseas.
Details on all of these bills are at http://lis.virginia.gov.
Delegate Mark Keam (www.DelegateKeam.org, @MarkKeam) represents Virginia's 35th House District located in Fairfax County, which includes Tysons, the Town of Vienna, Dunn Loring and portions of McLean, Oakton and Fairfax. Currently serving in his third term, Delegate Keam is a member of the House Courts, Education, Finance and Agriculture committees and the Joint Subcommittee to Evaluate Tax Preferences.