The Council’s legislative year has phases, both thematic and time-wise. January is busy legislatively, with many introductions and hearings. February and March are primarily the time for performance oversight hearings addressing every government agency. April and May are largely taken up with budget oversight hearings, regarding funding for those same agencies. The budget process wraps up in June, with the remainder of that month, and the first half of July, taken up again by intense focus on legislation.
Mid-July to mid-September marks the Council’s annual recess, which allows Councilmembers and their staffs time for deeper dives on policy research, constituent service, and getting out in the community. From September to December, legislative action is again front and center, especially in the second year of a two-year Council Period (This December will mark the end of the first year of Council Period 22.)
The most recent Legislative Meeting marked the end of the first half of the Council’s legislative year, and the transition into the recess. While Councilmembers and staff will remain busy, legislation cannot progress during recess. As such, there was a push to maximize the number of bills that could be closed out at this Legislative Meeting.
One measure that bucked the usual timing to a degree was an emergency measure prohibiting the Board of Elections from complying with any requests for information from the Presidential Advisory Commission on Electoral Integrity. The District joined 43 other states in refusing to provide some or all of the recently requested information. Given the timing of the request, emergency legislation was required, and was co-introduced by all 13 members of the Council. Permanent legislation will follow in the fall, and a public hearing will be held.
Passed on its second vote at this meeting was a measure to require the testing for lead in drinking water at all schools, parks, and child development facilities in the District, with high results triggering a notification, filtering, and repair process.
Another measure will bridge the legislative recess. The permanent version of the “Standard of Care for Animals” Act, which came to prominence due to the case of the pit bull “Momma” who was left out in the cold, received its first vote at the most recent Legislative Meeting. It will likely receive a second vote in September.
A large number of nominations and contracts were on the agenda for the last pre-summer meeting. Two measures generated debate from Councilmembers: additional spending on the newly-constructed Duke Ellington School, and approval of the school food contract with Sodexo. In both cases, Councilmembers expressed frustration at the ill-timed introduction of the measures, but reluctantly passed both so that the Ellington School’s opening, and school food service in general, would proceed.
In addition to other bills introduced since January that have not yet completed the legislative process, in the fall the Council will tackle these measures which were newly introduced at the most recent Legislative Meeting. If passed, they would:
•Allow the District’s non-voting delegate to vote in Congress on measures that exclusively impact the District
•Require the District government to post all government contract solicitations on a single web page
•Tighten the licensing laws for property managers
•Add homelessness to the list of protected classes in the DC Human Rights Act
•Create an instant run-off process in local elections
•Mitigate interference in government contracting
•Reduce infant mortality through the introduction of a “Baby Box” program
•Create an “extreme civil protection order,” prompting a temporary removal of guns in cases where individuals are found to pose an imminent threat to themselves or others
•Increase transparency in the workforce development field by requiring publication of success metrics
•Require District-wide information sessions on elder abuse
•Reinstate on the local level FCC broadband internet privacy protections that were recently eliminated federally
•Require private firms to ensure they share only current, not dated, arrest information for job applicants
•Reduce the application fee for new health service providers east of the river
•Name a therapeutic recreation center for Joy Evans, plaintiff in a historic court case defending those with intellectual disabilities
•Clarify that if DC becomes a state, the Electoral College votes formerly assigned to DC as a federal district will be neutralized and not double-counted
•Change the punishment for Metro fare evasion from arrest/imprisonment to a fine
•Increase the amount of each burial assistance payment made by the District government to a disadvantaged family
•Create an annual amnesty program for those owing over $1,000 in parking tickets, allowing a one-time reduced but complete payment
•Allow Business Improvement Districts to adopt and sponsor individual DC parks
For a full listing of votes taken at the most recent meeting, please click here.
The Council’s next Legislative Meeting will be held on September 19.