Public Safety is Key Focus of Latest Legislative Meeting

Early in a two-year Council Period, Legislative Meetings tend to be brief, because only measures introduced since the beginning of the Council Period (January 2, 2017) can be considered. The most recent meeting was no exception to this rule, clocking in at about two hours.

Fully a third of that time was spent discussing the Council’s strategy to improve public safety in the District. The catalyst for the discussion was a proposed emergency bill regarding the use of bonuses to increase the retention of senior police officers in the Metropolitan Police Department. Though the bill did not pass, Councilmembers committed to conduct hearings into multiple potential anti-crime measures, as well as to seek full funding of measures passed in the previous Council Period.

Approved by unanimous vote at the meeting was an emergency measure dubbed “Momma’s Law” in honor of a canine in Petworth who had been left outside in frigid temperatures. The bill stipulates not who, but how, the dogs can be let out—for example, requiring elevated, water- and wind-proof shelters in times of particular cold.

As indicated above, early in a Council Period, there is an interest in “priming the pump” with newly introduced legislation, allowing for hearings on such measures to occur, and eventually, votes on the measures as well. The rest of the most recent Legislative Meeting was consumed by introductions of such measures. These included bills that, if passed, would:

  • Increase the availability of public electric vehicle charging stations
  • Provide additional training to foster parents of vulnerable children
  • Establish a task force to encourage affordable housing cooperatives
  • Prohibit agreements between tenants and landlords that differentiate treatment among current residents, or between new and current residents
  • Reduce regulatory burdens on small businesses by creating an ombudsman to assist this group, severing the regulatory link between Certificate of Occupancy and Basic Business License requirements, etc.
  • Eliminate the use of the so-called “gay panic” defense in criminal cases
  • Change how the District measures if it has met a required “60 days of operating reserves” benchmark, allowing additional funds to be used for affordable housing and other needs
  • Adjust and expand current Inclusionary Zoning requirements
  • Study the demand for non-traditional daycare facilities, and consider incentives if the demand is unmet
  • Create matching grants to assist public safety workers purchasing homes in the District
  • Require provision of basic women’s health services even if the Affordable Care Act is repealed
  • Require campaign committees to retire their debt within six months of an election, and require consent for any personal images used in campaign literature
  • Allow more seniors to age in place, by updating income limits to adjust for inflation, and other changes
  • Create a Commission on African American History and Culture
  • Investigate and reduce the fees charged by public buildings as venues for community meetings
  • Improve violence prevention, job training, and safe transportation in high crime areas
  • Allow the District to join the Interstate Insurance Product Regulation Compact

At the Legislative Meeting, ceremonial resolutions were also presented to honor and thank public safety officials for their hard work during Inauguration weekend, and to commemorate Wear Red Day in honor of women’s heart health.

For a full listing of all votes taken at the Legislative Meeting, please click here.