The Council’s latest Legislative Meeting brought to closure many open legislative issues, some weeks and some decades in the making.
First and foremost, the Council’s cast its second and final vote on the Budget Support Act (BSA), which includes the legislative language necessary to implement the more dollar-and-cents content of other recently passed budget legislation. This second BSA vote informally marks the end of budget season. A handful of small but meaningful amendments to the BSA passed at the most recent meeting, including:
- expansion to educators of a pre-existing first-time homeowner financial assistance program (the current program benefits first responders residing in the District, but some program funds remained unspent)
- additional incentives to encourage a full-service supermarket to open in selected areas of Ward 5, and near Buzzard’s Point in Ward 6
- required reporting to the Council regarding which Housing Production Trust Fund applicants are advancing to the underwriting phase, and if/how their selection deviates from the quantitative ranking process
- allowing new scholarships to be provided to nursing students at the University of the District of Columbia as early as this summer
Additionally, the Council took its second and final vote on new Advisory Neighborhood Commission and Single Member District boundaries that will now be in effect beginning with the November 2022 general election, and for a decade to come. In the end, the final map that was approved largely echoed the recommendations of the Council’s Subcommittee on Redistricting, with the exception of a few changes to the Ward 7 map.
Three measures that deeply effect District residents’ daily lives all received the second of two necessary votes at the most recent Legislative Meeting, after first being voted on last month. All three provide critical consumer, employment, or health protections.
The first, a bill to protect consumers from unjust debt collection practices, received unanimous backing from the Council. The bill prohibits jailing consumers for unpaid commercial debt, strengthens a ban on abusive or misleading debt collection communication, limits the frequency and means of debt collector contacts with consumers, and bans debt collectors from notifying employers, friends, family, or neighbors about an individual’s indebtedness.
The second of the bills bans marijuana testing as a condition for new or ongoing employment, except in safety-related jobs or where required by federal law. Given that marijuana use is legal in the District, any such testing (outside the exceptions listed above) has no legal justification.
The third of these bills provides emergency access to restrooms in private businesses for those individuals with a documented medical necessity to use them.
One measure addressing a topic very much in the news recently was an emergency vote bill to ban price gouging in the sale of infant formula, and to authorize the Attorney General to prosecute those engaging in this unlawful practice.
The Council will hold three more Legislative Meetings prior to its recess in July. Three measures that were not filed timely to be on the agenda of the most recent meeting will instead be voted on at a very brief June 14 meeting. Meetings will also be held on June 28 and July 12.