At Budget Season’s Pivot Point, Councilmembers Continue Legislative Work

Although never really addressed in our high school civics classes, oversight is just as essential of a responsibility for a legislature as legislating is. This critical season reaches its midpoint this week, with the Mayor’s introduction of her FY 2018 budget.

After the Mayor’s budget has been presented to the Council this week (once in a smaller meeting, and once in a public briefing in the Chamber), the Council will pivot from the agency-by-agency Performance Oversight hearings that occupied its late winter to the Budget Oversight hearings that will largely monopolize their early spring.

The latest Legislative Meeting constituted a bit of a calm before the budget storm. While there was no shortage of business done, it largely consisted of approvals of nominations, contracts, and the like. One bill modified the financing for the previously-approved undergrounding of the most troublesome Pepco electric lines, and another accelerated the pace (via introduction of emergency/temporary legislation) of implementation of a defense of women’s health protections.

A number of measures were introduced. If passed, they would:
•Increase guaranteed affordable housing annual spending from $100 million to $120 million
•Ensure that Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) benefits do not expire after 60 months
•Provide for the safe disposal of pharmaceuticals
•Clarify that homeowners and cooperative associations cannot block solar installations
•Provide limited loan forgiveness to those transferring to the University of the District of Columbia, and to ensure full UDC scholarships to the top of each graduating class
•Expand services to the returning citizen community
•Provide mental/behavioral health services in schools via telemedicine
•Provide Health Care Financing Administration reimbursement for remote patient monitoring services
•Express the Sense of the Council expressing a commitment to combatting climate change
•Prohibit the sale and use of gas-powered leaf blowers by 2022
•Provide landscaping support for senior citizen homeowners
•Waive public space fees for Main Street organizations
•Waive parking tickets not properly noticed within two years, and set their statute of limitations at eight-years

At the meeting, ceremonial resolutions were presented to:
•Major General Errol Schwartz for his long National Guard service
•Chief Judge Eric Washington on his retirement as Chief Judge
•Clifford Keenan on his retirement from the Pretrial Services Agency
•Advocates recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month
•The championship Anacostia SHS women’s basketball team

The next Legislative Meeting will be held May 2.

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