0
Votes

Del. Keam Introduces His New Legislation

Named to House Courts of Justice Committee.

Del. Mark Keam (D-35) began his third term in the Virginia General Assembly on a high note, garnering a new committee assignment and introducing 10 bills. He took the oath of office last Wednesday, Jan. 8, at noon.

When he first came to Richmond in January 2010, he was assigned the most junior ranking position – number 100 out of 100 members in the House. But last week, he moved up to number 64 in seniority as a result of last November’s and recent special elections.

In addition, on the first day of session, Speaker of the House William J. Howell added Keam to the House Courts of Justice Committee, besides his ongoing memberships on three other House committees – Finance; Education; and Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources.

It’s 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 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.

Also on this session’s first day, Keam introduced 10 bills addressing 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.