Making Marriage Great Again, and a Bevy of Introductions, Mark First Legislative Meeting

At the first Legislative Meeting of the two-year session known as Council Period 23, much of the meeting was taken up by the introduction of measures just beginning (or beginning anew) the legislative process.  These measures must successfully wend their way through the legislative process before taking effect.

The exception to the rule: a needed piece of emergency legislation that provided a fix to a problem the federal government shutdown exposed. Since the federally-funded DC Superior Court issues DC marriage licenses, and these same services were deemed non-essential by the federal government, marriages in the District had been stymied since the shutdown began. By allowing the Mayor’s office to issue marriage licenses, the emergency legislation provides for continued matrimony even in times of a non-functioning federal government.

In regards to the flurry of new legislation introduced at the most recent meeting, Council rules generally restrict each councilmember to introducing just three new bills per meeting from the dais. (Members can introduce unlimited legislation by filing paperwork in the Council’s Office of the Secretary, but Members often prefer to introduce bills in the public venue of the Council Chamber.) However, just for the first meeting of the Council Period, the Council waived the three-bill rule and allowed each Councilmember to introduce unlimited bills within a ten-minute window. The bounty of legislation listed below is what resulted.

The Council’s next Legislative Meeting will be held on February 5. For a full list of votes taken at the most recent meeting, please click here.

The measures introduced at the most recent meeting, if eventually enacted, would:

  • Establish a bike valet grant program
  • Allow theaters to have sidewalk cafés
  • Require foreign missions to contract with trash collection services
  • Reduce the cap on residential real property tax increase from 10 to 5 percent per year
  • Limit amplified noise and ban the use of gas generators
  • Require two hours of paid leave for voting on all District-wide election days
  • Allow the District’s non-voting Delegate to the House of Representatives to be able to vote on the House floor on measures that pertain exclusively to the District of Columbia
  • Create a temporary protection order that requires the relinquishment of owned firearms and the nonpurchase of new ones
  • Ban the import, sale, and trafficking of elephant ivory and rhino horn
  • Expand the applicability of the False Claims Act to apply to the tax code so that large-scale tax evaders can be prosecuted via whistleblower statutes
  • Ban the previous use of a drug called PrEP as a criterion in the making of determinations of life insurance and related eligibilities
  • Provide expanded care for LGBTQ seniors and seniors with HIV
  • Express the Sense of the Council in opposition to the government shutdown
  • Operationalize racial equity in the District government by requiring the development of a racial equity tool, mandating its use in annual performance oversight reviews, and providing racial equity training for all government employees
  • Create a panel of attorneys to represent youth defendants with special education needs, and create a fund to remunerate them
  • Modernize the District’s criminal record-sealing process
  • Legalize the sale of marijuana
  • Create an Office of the Taxpayer Advocate to assist taxpayers with complicated customer service issues
  • Provide a second method of substandard construction relief—if a contractor damages a neighboring property, instead of being required to fix the damage, the contractor could now be required to pay to have another contractor do it
  • Allow for deferred Earned Income Tax Credit “Rainy Day” refunds
  • Eliminate the required payment of alimony to the abuser in cases of domestic abuse
  • Create a Bedbug Control Act aimed at curbing the spread of the creatures: making clear owner responsibilities regarding notifications, remediation, etc.
  • Create a framework for accountability of at-risk education funding, including disclosure, reporting, and school involvement
  • Eliminate the use of nondisclosure agreements in cases of sexual misconduct
  • Provide an enforcement mechanism for violation of rules in cases where evictions in cases of a reduction of number of units, or required mandatory vacancy do not occur
  • Create a classroom innovation grant program
  • Create a District Promise Scholarship program that would provide free tuition for District residents at the University of the District of Columbia’s Community College
  • Create a dual language immersion accelerator by creating eight new dual language schools to double the number of available dual-language seats by 2020-21, reducing current long waitlists
  • Reduce or waive the startup fees for microbusinesses
  • Provide a grant of $1,000 to needy families for use in babyproofing their homes
  • Help prevent opioid overdoses by providing the Metropolitan Police Department with opioid antagonist kits and training them in their use
  • Repeal the tax on gym memberships and fitness classes
  • Provide real property tax relief for senior citizens and eliminate a “notch” in the current tax scale
  • Allow seniors to transfer their property tax cap if they downsize to a new, but smaller, property from a long-held family home
  • Exclude pensions and other late-in-life income sources from income taxes
  • Exempt first responders from income taxes
  • Provide police officers, their spouses, and their children with vouchers to attend community college in DC for free, as well as a $1,000 to attend other schools
  • Clarify that if DC becomes a state, the three Electoral College votes attributed to the federal capital would automatically go to the Electoral College winner, thus rendering them meaningless
  • Provide the executive branch with additional flexibility in the spending of contingency funds
  • Transfer the name “Joy Evans Therapeutic Recreation Center” from one facility to another such facility closer to her former home.
  • Create a Commission on Literacy
  • Create youth mentoring initiatives
  • Establish a nonprofit incubator
  • Make the DC Lottery the contractor for the District’s sports gambling program without requiring a full procurement process