Final Meeting of Council Period 21 Capped by Passage of Universal Paid Leave

People in the District count down to the New Year at midnight on December 31 every year.

Legislation in the District counts down to the new Council Period at noon on January 2 every two years.

It was facing this deadline that the Council sat down for a Legislative Meeting for the 38th and final time in Council Period 21, which began January 2, 2015 and will end on that same date in 2017. The Council tackled a 15-page agenda at the meeting, and while legislation covered a full gamut of topics, the bill that received the most attention from the public and the media was the Universal Paid Leave Act.

That Act received its required first vote at the previous Legislative Meeting earlier in December, and passed by a vote of 11 to 2. In the interim, an alternative version of the bill focusing on an employer mandate rather than a payroll tax was circulated. It was introduced as an amendment in the nature of a substitute, but was subsequently defeated by a vote of 8 to 5. A friendly amendment was accepted that mandates a review of the bill three years after implementation, to determine if the tax rate and/or benefit levels should be revisited. In the end, the bill as amended passed by a 9 to 4 vote.

The core benefits and funding structure of the bill did not change between readings: the bill provides eight weeks of care when a new child joins a household (through birth, adoption, foster care, or assumed legal guardianship), six weeks of care for sick relatives, and two weeks of self-care. A 0.62% tax rate would be applied to employer payrolls, generating a maximum $1,000 weekly benefit. Employees would receive a benefit equaling 90% of their salary, up to 1.5 times the minimum wage, then 50% of their wage, up to the previously stated maximum.

Also passed at this meeting:

  • Approval of Antwan Wilson as Chancellor of DC Public Schools
  • An Advisory Neighborhood Commission reform measure
  • A rail safety measure
  • Initiation of a disposition process for the former Hardy School property to the Lab School
  • A clarification of financial disclosure rules for the Council
  • A resolution setting March 23 as the date by which the Mayor must present her budget to the Council
  • A Sense of the Council measure opposing federal immigration raids
  • A Sense of the Council measure indicating that the official snow measurement site for the District should be moved from Virginia into the District

Additionally, at this meeting, ceremonial resolutions were passed to honor:

  • Virginia McLaurin, the 107-year-old long-time volunteer and District resident honored recently at the White House
  • Shirley Gibson, mother of slain Metropolitan Police Department Master Patrol Officer Brian Gibson, and host for 20 years of a holiday meal for law enforcement officers
  • Tara Morrison, outgoing superintendent of Rock Creek Park for the National Park Service

Finally, as is Council tradition, just prior to adjourning, Councilmembers honored their colleagues who will not be returning to the dais for the next Council Period. Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander and Ward 8 Councilmember LaRuby May were warmly addressed by their colleagues, and made farewell remarks.

For a full list of votes taken at the meeting, please click here.