Council Queues Up Consequential November Legislative Meeting

 

With fewer than a dozen weeks remaining in the two-year Council Period that wraps up on January 2, each subsequent Legislative Meeting becomes more consequential. Bills passed since January of 2017 have under three months left to navigate the remainder of the legislative process prior to year’s (and their) end.

Two votes of particular note occurred at the most recent meeting. First, a unanimously passed emergency measure clarified existing law, re-stating that the government has “the authority to approve or disapprove the closure or termination of services of any Health Care Facility.” This is especially important given the announced closure of Providence Hospital, the impassioned hearing held on the topic earlier in October, and the pending continued hearing at which the owners of Providence Hospital will be heard. Also, the second of two needed votes on the Initiative 77 tipped wage repeal measure was passed by the same margin as it had at the prior Legislative Meeting.

Much of the other notable action on the agenda at the most recent Legislative Meeting (and the Committee of the Whole meeting that preceded it) consisted of actions that foreshadowed what is likely to be a gangbuster meeting in November.

The first of two votes on the Language Access for Education Amendment Act, which broadly expands the list of government entities which must provide foreign language access services, was delayed until the November meeting.

The second of two necessary votes on the short-term rental bill, also known as the Air BnB bill, was postponed until the November meeting in order to provide councilmembers more time to analyze a funding mechanism included in the legislation at the request of the District’s Chief Financial Officer.

At the Committee of the Whole meeting that preceded the Legislative Meeting, two key votes were also taken that will shape the agenda for November’s Legislative Meeting. Both votes queued up bills for the first of two necessary Legislative Meeting votes next month.  The first was on a bill that would extend and/or eliminate the statute of limitations on many categories of criminal and civil sexual abuse cases. The second was on a measure that would decriminalize transit fare evasion, making it a civil rather than a criminal offense, so that it will no longer be punishable via imprisonment.

Finally, introduced at the most recent meeting, but to face its one and only needed vote at the November meeting, is the resolution that sets the official schedule for approval of the next fiscal year’s budget.

Also at the most recent meeting, a Ceremonial Resolution was presented recognizing October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the District of Columbia.

With the end of the Council Period approaching, the number of new bill introductions has also decreased, though not abated. The measures introduced at the most recent Legislative Meeting, if passed, would:

  • Seal eviction records after two years
  • Ensure proper care is provided to LGBTQ seniors, and seniors living with HIV, in elder care facilities
  • Restrict the use of harmful polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in pavement sealants
  • Clarify the legal rights of special education youth defendants
  • Create a health impact assessment process to analyze the impact of construction and development on nearby residents
  • Provide and refinance student loans for those attending DC universities
  • Establish the calendar for submission and approval of the FY 2019 budget

The next Legislative Meeting, the one highlighted throughout this article, will be held on November 13.