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Dear <<First Name>>:

Your state legislature just wrapped up our second week of the General Assembly session.

After the inauguration of a new Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General, and the swearing in of new Delegates, things are starting to become busy in Richmond.

Committees are meeting and debating bills and nominations for the Governor's Cabinet and judicial positions are being considered

                        .
On January 15, Mark and Alex Keam attended the inauguration ceremony for incoming Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General.

While the House of Delegates has not taken up and passed any bills up to this point, there have been plenty of debates around the new Governor's actions he took through executive actions.

Among the first dozen executive orders issued by Gov. Glenn Youngkin are efforts to repeal executive decisions made by former Gov. Ralph Northam, which was expected considering that these two governors belong to opposing political parties.

But what was not expected was Gov. Youngkin's unilateral efforts to overturn the law of the state that the General Assembly put in place.

Under the American system of government, the executive branch cannot overrule actions of the legislative branch that has already been enacted into law -- that's the role of the judicial branch.

Instead, the executive can veto bills proposed by the legislative branch, or work with legislators to pass laws that will undo laws that previous legislatures enacted.

Governor's Actions on Masks for Students

As soon as he took his oath of office, Gov. Youngkin issued an order ending various public health emergency orders put in place to combat COVID-19, including making masks for school students optional.

This action immediately led to a lawsuit by parents of students who are concerned that an optional mask policy would place their children at risk of contracting COVID.  The legal challenge also correctly points out that a governor cannot overturn a state law.

Last year, I supported a bipartisan bill to keep our schools open with in-person classroom instructions.

Senate Bill 1303, introduced by a Republican Senator, specifically requires local schools to follow to the maximum extent practicable all expert guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC continues to recommend universal indoor masking by all students in K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.

Considering these clearcut set of facts, I do not believe that Gov. Youngkin has the authority to make masks optional in schools, and I hope the court will resolve this legal issue soon.

                         
At a press conference on "Refugee Advocacy Day" on January 19, Mark spoke about ways that our state can support those who were forced to leave places like Afghanistan to seek better opportunities in Virginia. 

My Legislative Agenda

To date, I have introduced 23 bills but none of them have been heard in committees yet. 

Several of my bills deal with transportation, education, healthcare, environment, and taxes.

I drafted other bills on behalf of constituents who told me about problems they encountered with our state.

I also have several bills I introduced on behalf of the Town of Vienna.

As my legislative agenda moves forward next week, I will describe them in more detail.  In the meantime, you can find the text of my bills and those filed by my colleagues here.

This legislative session, the public has the option to offer testimony in-person or remotely.  If you would like to virtually testify on a particular bill, you can sign up to speak or submit written testimony at House of Delegates SPEAK.

You can find out when a particular bill will be considered in a committee or subcommittee by reviewing the committee schedule and their agendas.

All subcommittee and full committee meetings will be livestreamed for the public to view.

Even though my staff and I are currently in Richmond, we are always available to assist you with any constituent matters in our district, so please feel free to email or call with your thoughts and comments at any time.

Sincerely,

Mark Keam


 
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