Council Rights Wrongs of Longstanding, and More Recent, Vintage

Some challenges take time, and are tough to tackle. Others are more quickly and easily dispatched. The Council’s most recent Legislative Meeting included measures at both ends of the spectrum.

On one end of the spectrum was the contract the Council approved with the District’s teachers. After five years without a contract in place, the teachers union and the Mayor finally reached a long-overdue agreement on salary increases of four, three, and two percent across the past and next two fiscal years. With the agreement settled upon, all that was needed was for the Council to approve the contract, bringing it into force, and officially closing out a years-long process.

On the opposite end of the spectrum was the Council’s action to allow restaurant owners to determine whether to allow dogs on their restaurant’s patios. When the public brought it to the Council’s attention that the regulations in place on the topic might be out of step with some public opinion, a quick but temporary legislative change was able to be put into place at the most recent legislative meeting, taking effect immediately following action by the Mayor. A permanent change to the law will pass through the traditional legislative process, including a hearing, two votes by the Council, etc.

Merging complexity with speed was another measure passed at the most recent meeting, a series of clarifications and corrections to the Budget Support Act, which passed this summer. The budget is of course incredibly complex, to such an extent that even the tweaks needed to that mammoth bill were themselves a lengthy package. However, given that the new fiscal year began on October 1, urgency and complexity had to co-exist. The package of budget clarifications, modified further to include the terms of the teachers’ contract, passed without opposition.

In other action at the meeting, a set of five bills related to the Department of Motor Vehicles received their first Council vote. A measure introduced at the request of Attorney General Karl Racine, banning Equifax from charging a $10 fee for freezing credit reports of those affected by their recent data breach, was also passed on an emergency basis. With the opening of the new Wharf development just ten days away, another emergency measure was introduced and passed to allow the Department of Public Works to do parking enforcement there, despite the technically private ownership of the Wharf roads.

New measures introduced at the meeting, if passed, would:
•Create a license plate to raise awareness of breast cancer
•Provide incentives for residential composting
•Waive fees for recreational field use for DC-based sports leagues with financial need
•Rename Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day
•Create a loan forgiveness program for people with qualifying incomes
•Express the Sense of the Council in support of including arts education in school curricula
•Ban foreclosures on homes with reverse mortgages
•Establish a certification program to highlight businesses that pay their workers a living wage
•Create a voucher program to assist those in financial need with lead pipe replacement
•Establish an Office and a Commission of Nightlife
•Rename the Boxing and Wrestling Commission as the Athletic Commission
•Allow dogs on restaurant patios (permanent version of emergency measure referenced above)
•Overturn a regulation reducing the depth of a private pool permitted to operate without a lifeguard from six to five feet
•Establish a Commission on Literacy
•Express the Sense of the Council in support of joining a coalition of cities seeking race equity and social justice
•Express the Sense of the Council in support of legislative action to maintain Temporary Protected Status for immigrants from certain countries
•Provide a tax abatement to the University of the District of Columbia for its leased Community College space

Additionally, ceremonial resolutions were presented during the meeting to recognize:
•The 100th Anniversary of the Washington Area New Automobile Dealers Association
•October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
•DC-based chocolatier and small business Chocotenango
•Community Development Week

For a full list of votes taken at the meeting, please click here.