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Virginia Delegates Danica Roem (D-Manassas Park) and Dawn Adams (D-Richmond) have made history, after taking the oath of office in Richmond for the 2018 legislative session.
Roem, the delegate from the Prince William-based 13th District in the House of Delegates, becomes the first out transgender person to serve in the General Assembly, and Adams, representing the 68th House district covering Richmond and its nearby suburbs, becomes the legislature’s first out lesbian member.
Both women were sworn in with their 98 House colleagues, including fellow LGBTQ Delegates Mark Sickles (D-Franconia) and Mark Levine (D-Alexandria). Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), the fifth LGBTQ member of the General Assembly, was sworn in for the legislative session in a separate session in the Senate.
Roam and Adams have helped almost double the number of out LGBTQ candidates currently serving in the General Assembly.
Shortly after being sworn in, the House members began voting on organizational rules for the House, including the makeup of committees and subcommittees.
Under the rules unanimously approved by the House, the GOP, which controls the chamber 51-49, promised to take into account feedback from Democratic leadership when determining which members sit on which committees.
As of 3 p.m., it was not clear to which committees Roem and Adams would be assigned. However, in a positive development, the approved rules provide for on-the-record subcommittee votes — essentially, this prevents politicians hiding from accountability if they kill a bill in a subcommittee, such as Republicans from more progressive districts nixing pro-LGBTQ legislation.
Roem vowed to “make government boring again” on social media. Writing on her Facebook page, she was thankful for invitations to various events occurring in and out of Richmond during the session, which ends Mar. 10, but had made a commitment to dedicate herself to the job of being delegate, saying: “I have a lot of reading ahead of me.”
“I need to spend as much time as possible doing my homework: making sure my staff and I read every single bill that comes our way,” Roem wrote. “My goal is to define myself as a policy wonk who does her homework, is well-prepared each day and gets bills passed.
“On Fridays, I’m leaving Richmond as soon as I can so I can spend as much time around my family as I can, so I don’t plan on spending many Saturdays and Sundays in Richmond unless I absolutely have to be there for official business.
“So most of my nights after the caucus, floor session, subcommittee and committee meetings adjourn, I’ll be holed up reading bills or hopefully talking to constituents, staff or stakeholders for particular bills. I’m not going to have much of a social life and will probably be able to fulfill my pledge to make government boring again rather quickly.”
In other news, outgoing Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe will address the newly constituted legislature on Wednesday evening, and offer his thoughts on the direction of the commonwealth. On Saturday, Jan. 13, Gov.-elect Ralph Northam and Lt. Gov-elect Justin Fairfax, both Democrats, will take the oath of office for their respective positions, as will Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring, now in his second term.
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