Council Mandates Free Period Products in District Schools, $40 Million in Small Business Aid, Eviction Record Sealing, and Visitor Parking Pass Extension

In its first Legislative Meeting of 2022, the Council passed four measures that, while dealing with elements of daily life, are far from mundane.

First, the Council passed a bill that requires all DC schools to provide free period products to students. In middle schools, high schools, and universities, the period products must be provided in every girls’/women’s bathroom as well as every bathroom with no gender designation. (If there are no gender-neutral bathrooms, at least one boys’/men’s room must also be so equipped.) In elementary schools, at least one bathroom per school must be outfitted with period products. Furthermore, period education will be required to be included in student health curriculum for younger kids regardless of gender starting in Grade 4, so that it is more timely to the age where period onset for students actually occurs. Funds in the current budget are sufficient to allow the immediate implementation of this bill.

Second, the Council passed a bill outlining the rules whereby a new $40 million in small business COVID relief grants will be distributed. Only businesses in the restaurant, retail, hospitality, or entertainment sectors with under $5 million in revenue in each of the last three years can apply. These COVID reopening and recovery funds can be used to pay for daily expenses, including outstanding rent, payroll, labor costs, inventory, and specific operating costs.

Third, the Council passed a bill that would require that eviction records be sealed in cases where a landlord lost their eviction case in court, or withdrew their eviction claim. All other eviction records would be sealed after three years. The bill also included certain rental fairness terms, including limiting the application fees charged by landlords to a maximum of $35, ensuring tenants receive complete information regarding the tenant screening process, and prohibiting landlords from making an adverse decision based solely on an applicant’s lack of a credit score.

Finally, the Council passed a bill that will extend the applicability of the current paper visitor parking pass system until mid-April of this year. Residents can continue using their current passes, already enjoying a second life since their prior December 31, 2020 expiration date. Councilmembers expressed concern that the online process intended to replace the paper passes posed significant equity and logistical concerns, and that sufficient public outreach had yet to be conducted.

The Council’s next scheduled Legislative Meeting will be held on February 1.