Council Moves Legislative Mountains at Penultimate Marathon Session

Nothing succeeds like a deadline.

Legislation that begins its legislative climb during a two-year Council Period will slide back down to the base of the mountain unless it reaches the summit prior to the end of this year. And by “the summit,” we mean two votes by the Council prior to our final meeting on December 18.

What that does not mean is that Councilmembers waited until the last minute to introduce legislation, or to run bills through their legislative paces. Bills considered at the most recent legislative meeting were introduced as far back as March of 2017, and as recently as November of this year.  But regardless of when they were introduced, or how early or late into the climb they were, all that matters now is that they top out by the end of the month.

That is all the incentive that dozens of legislative initiatives, large and small, needed in order to pack the agenda for the second-to-last Legislative Meeting of Council Period 22. With one meeting remaining, the fate and form of some measures remains up in the air. We have finality on some, and some clarity on others. Here is the rundown:

  • On the measure that drew the largest crowd to the Chamber, the proposed new hospital in the East End of the District, a number of amendments were approved prior to the bill’s second and final vote being postponed to the December 18 Legislative Meeting. Amendments passed prior to that postponement shifted beds amongst the various facilities, attempted to create a greater role for Howard University Hospital, and preserved labor protections for former United Medical Center employees at the new hospitals.
  • A measure decriminalizing fare evasion on Metro passed on its second and final vote. Fare evasion will be considered a civil infraction punished by a fine.
  • An omnibus campaign finance measure meant to reduce the appearance of “pay-to-play” campaign contributions on government contracting, as well as to create an independent campaign finance board, was approved unanimously on its second and final vote.
  • Internet gaming was approved on the first of two votes. RFK Stadium was removed from the list of approved sites. Comments from the dais indicated that some of the specifics of this bill could change prior to the second vote on December 18.
  • Receiving its second and final vote was a measure that expands the list of government entities which must provide foreign language access services.
  • Passed unanimously on its first vote was an omnibus firearm safety measure that allows police to temporarily restrict access to guns in cases of credible risk of imminent danger, tightens laws on guns with obliterated serial numbers, and bans bump stocks.
  • A recent temporary increase in commercial property taxes was eliminated by a second and final vote, with the taxes returned to their prior level, and the reduction funded by sales tax revenues from online sales.
  • A 2022 ban on the sale or use of gas-powered leaf blowers passed on its first vote.
  • An improved nutrition and wellness bill for schools, including the requirement that a vegetarian option be offered, passed on its first vote.
  • A ban on sexual extortion (or “sextortion”) based on explicit images or immigration status passed on its first vote.
  • A measure that extended and/or eliminated the statute of limitations on many categories of criminal and civil sexual abuse cases passed on its second and final vote.
  • An eviction reform measure focused on eliminating the prior practice of emptying an apartment’s contacts onto the sidewalk, and allowing for scheduled evictions, passed on its second and final vote.
  • An omnibus reform of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) focused primarily on notice provisions, strengthened enforcement, and disclosure of all LLC ownership participants, passed on its first vote.
  • An East End Food Justice measure, meant to incentivize construction of grocery stores in the East End of the District, passed on its first vote.
  • A public restroom measure, including the rollout of a pilot public restroom and incentives to allow public use of business restrooms, passed on its first vote.
  • A measure exempting parent-led play cooperatives from certain restrictions placed on child care facilities passed on its first vote.
  • A measure limiting wage garnishment on lower income individuals, and requiring notification of all whose wages are to be garnished, had its second vote postponed until the December 18 meeting.

At the meeting, Ceremonial Resolutions were presented recognizing Washington Area Women’s Foundation Day, and the 25th Anniversary of the DC Superior Court Drug Intervention Program.

As stated earlier, the final Legislative Meeting of the Council Period will be held on December 18.

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