After a Deep Dive on Council Procedure, Legislation is Passed, and Postponed

TV shows like “Law & Order” are known in the industry as “procedurals.” They take viewers behind the scenes to follow exactly how a process (like arrest or prosecution) plays out, step by step, from start to finish.

At its 30th Legislative Meeting, the Council put on a procedural of a different sort, providing a high-level course on Council rules and a demonstration of its many procedures.

In fact, much of the debate at this meeting centered not on the substance of what bills would accomplish, but instead on when they would be considered and voted on by the Council. Timing is particularly critical this time of year. With the Council’s summer recess quickly approaching, and given that most measures require two Council votes, any measure advocates wanted to see fast-tracked would require votes at both this and the subsequent Legislative Meeting.

One key discussion at this meeting centered on how responsibility, and damages, are calculated in cases of accidents between a vehicle and a pedestrian/bicyclist. Some members sought an immediate vote, while others advocated for delayed consideration of the measure until October (after the Council’s summer recess). In the end, after rarely-invoked procedural strategy by those on both sides of the issue, the measure was postponed. As a result, the first of two necessary votes on the measure is scheduled for the Legislative Meeting on July 12, with a second vote likely following in the fall.

Similarly, a measure regarding stability and predictability in hourly workers’ schedules had been queued up for fast-track consideration, with both votes set to occur prior to recess. However, to allow for further discussion among supporters and opponents, the measure was withdrawn from immediate consideration. This means that the earliest final Council consideration could come would be sometime in the fall.

A final conversation about comparative timing occurred in the context of legislation to create a task force to investigate the need for a mobile shower bus for the homeless, and better distribution of feminine hygiene products to the homeless and incarcerated. Rather than the desired first vote at this meeting, the measure will instead be considered in October, after a hearing has been held.

Passing without substantial discussion or controversy at this meeting were:

  • A measure expanding options, and increasing requirements, for use of alternative energy sources
  • A measure protecting the elderly and vulnerable adults from financial exploitation
  • A measure creating a minimum work week for building service employees, and a regulatory scheme for its enforcement
  • A measure establishing establish a business development system for returning citizens called the Incarceration to Incorporation Entrepreneurship Program
  • A measure to clarify the process for Metro board nominations
  • A measure to limit covenants preventing subsequent supermarket development
  • A number of executive nominations to boards and commissions
  • A number of contract modifications and approvals

Two ceremonial resolutions were presented at the meeting, commemorating the successes of soccer/literacy nonprofit DC SCORES and anti-gang community-based organization CEASE FIRE...Don’t Smoke the Brothers & Sisters Inc.

Two new pieces of legislation were also introduced at the meeting: one requiring documentation of health disparities in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning community, and the other setting into motion the referendum process tied to the District’s ongoing statehood efforts.

For a full listing of all votes taken at the meeting, click here.