Metro, Youth Justice, Health, Quality of Life Measures Dominate Agenda at 33rd Legislative Meeting

Some Legislative Meetings are notable headline-grabbers, while others simply get the job done, moving productive measures forward through the legislative process. The Council’s 33rd Legislative Meeting falls in this latter category.

One of the most attention-getting piece of legislation addressed at the meeting was a unanimous Sense of the Council resolution in support of Metro’s late-night hours. Such Sense of the Council measures are among a small subset of legislation that are only voted on once, and which do not get sent along to the Mayor.  Though only a statement of the Council’s strongly-held views, a unanimously-passed resolution such as this one, defended as full-throatedly as it was, is a powerful signal to those ultimately making the decision on this topic.

One comprehensive measure passed at the Meeting addressed youth justice. The measure eliminated life sentences without parole as well as minimum mandatory sentences for juveniles. It also allows for any juvenile convicted as an adult to a long sentence to petition for review before a judge after 20 years of incarceration.

Health, Safety, and Quality of Life Measures

A number of measures addressed at this Legislative Meeting involved the tightening or loosening of existing measures impacting public health, safety, and quality of life. One such measure strengthened the penalties against distracted driving, culminating in a 30 to 90 day driver’s license suspension for a third violation. Another extended the minimum age for tobacco sale and possession from 18 to 21.  A third created parity between tobacco use and e-cigarettes/vaping. A recent bill providing accessible epinephrine pens in public places was clarified through additional legislation to further facilitate their use. A similar bill targeted barriers to the use of opioid antagonists in battling opioid addiction. Another bill modified the District’s medical marijuana legislation to eliminate restrictions on the number of plants grown, and allowing approved out-of-towners access to the medicine.

Two additional measures increased the social justice of motor vehicle and identity document procedures. One measure provides for improved language services for those with limited or no English language proficiency, while another waives identity document and vital record fees for those earning less than double the federal poverty level.

Introductions and Ceremonial Resolutions

New measures introduced from the dais included:

  • Mandatory disclosure of any pending stop work orders on transferred property
  • Allowance of a matter-of-right helicopter pad at any District hospital
  • Modernization of the District laws regarding notaries, including notarization of electronic documents and across international borders
  • Clarification that any District Department of Transportation charges related to the undergrounding of electric wires will be imposed on the electric utility

Prior to the Legislative Meeting, ceremonial resolutions recognized Hispanic Heritage Month, Domestic Violence and Infant Mortality Awareness and Prevention, the decades-long labor movement career of Frederick Allen, and the charter school successes of Donald Hense.

For a full list of votes taken at the Legislative Meeting, click here.

The next Legislative Meeting is scheduled for November 1, though an Additional Legislative Meeting may be held on October 18.