Final Legislative Meeting of 2015 Marks Midpoint of Process for Some Items, and Debut of Next Budget

 

In what is scheduled to be the final Legislative Meeting of 2015, a number of longstanding policy issues moved past a turning point, and the first action of the fledgling FY 2017 budget cycle debuted.

In regards to the longstanding topic of the closure of the homeless shelter at DC General, and the subsequent creation of smaller shelters in wards across the city, unanimous passage on second reading of a bill first approved in November would seem to bring this topic to a close. In reality, though, this is only the midpoint of the debate, because the specific locations of the future shelters have not yet been announced, and the Mayor has promised an open process involving the community once that announcement has been made.

Similarly, the unanimous passage on first vote of a measure including the recent compromise police body-worn camera bill drafted by Judiciary Committee Chairman Kenyan McDuffie after negotiations with the Administration would seem to indicate closure on this complicated issue. Yet, a second vote on the bill is required at the next Legislative Meeting. Process aside, it appears that the final measure will provide unprecedented access to police camera footage to the public and the media via the District’s Freedom of Information Act process, while providing protections for film shot in sensitive environments such as in private homes, and in schools.

Two other longstanding policy debates also made brief appearances on the meeting’s agenda. The redevelopment of the McMillan Reservoir site moved forward via a final vote on the closure of so-called “paper streets” traversing the site on city maps, if not in concrete form. And although not directly up for a vote, the proposed Pepco/Exelon electric company merger was invoked in the debate when the Council voted to confirm Sandra Mattavous-Frye as People’s Counsel.

On the budget front, although most of us are just now remembering to write “FY 2016” on our checks, the Council yesterday took the first step in the FY 2017 budget process. The Council provided the Administration with the date (March 24, 2016) by which the Mayor’s proposed budget must be presented to the Council, as well as a list of what material must be included in that budget.  The full budget process moving forward is explained here.

As always, a series of new legislative measures were introduced at this Legislative Meeting.  Those measures included:

  • two campaign finance measures
  • a restriction on the use of solitary confinement
  • creation of a “Made in DC” campaign highlighting local manufacturing
  • providing predictable quantity and schedule of hours for hourly workers
  • funding of DC statehood measures
  • modification of expiration of TANF benefits
  • creation of a paramedicine pilot program
  • clarification of school attendance policies to encourage time in school

The Council’s next Legislative Meeting is scheduled for January 5, and the next Committee of the Whole meeting is scheduled for December 15.

A full summary of measures taken at the recent Legislative Meeting is available here.

The full budget process moving forward is explained here.