This is a challenging week in the District of Columbia. We began by celebrating and learning from the uplift of Martin Luther King, Jr., and we will conclude with the inauguration of a President who many of us believe is unfit and unprepared for this immense task. The threat to working families and to basic progressive values is very real, and it will make our work at the state and municipal level even more important. You have my commitment to preserve and protect the truths we hold to be self-evident, that all women and men are created equal, that it is our diversity and inclusion that makes our country great, and that each resident should be given equal opportunity through public services including high-quality public education.
Happy New Year! I want to wish you and your family a very joyous, healthy, and productive 2017. Thank you for your support these past two years.
Today, I joined my colleagues in swearing in one new member, Trayon White representing Ward 8; one returning member, Vincent Gray representing Ward 7; and four current members, Jack Evans representing Ward 2, Brandon Todd representing Ward 4, and at-large colleagues Robert White and David Grosso. Congratulations to all, and I look forward to working with them as the new chairman of the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development! In the new Council period, I will also remain a member of the Committees on Finance and Revenue and Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization.
I think we all agree 2016 will be a year to remember! For many of us, national politics has been heart-wrenching, but I hope you feel that local politics has provided a hopeful path forward.
Next Tuesday is our last legislative meeting of the year and of this two-year Council period. This means that all legislative items—bills, resolutions, and emergencies—must be voted on by Dec. 20. After Tuesday, any outstanding legislative items must be reintroduced in the next Council period, which begins once our newly-elected Council members are sworn in on January 2.
We’re in the home stretch at the Wilson Building, with the end of Council Period 21 approaching on December 20. We’re working hard on Paid Family Leave and other issues, but it’s always important to take a break. So please join us at our holiday party at Compass Coffee in Chinatown (650 F Street NW) on Sunday, December 18, from 3:00–5:00 p.m. to enjoy some holiday cheer and support Toys for Tots!
We’ll provide the jelly donuts and holiday cookies (and maybe a game of spin the dreidel). This is our second year teaming up to support Toys for Tots with Compass Coffee’s Harrison Suarez and Michael Haft, who are both Marine veterans. All four Compass Coffee locations have boxes for Toys for Tots, and their fellow Marines will join us Sunday to collect the toys. All we need from you is to bring the cheer. We encourage you to bring one unwrapped child’s gift for our donation box if you can.
Please RSVP here so we know how many jelly donuts and cookies to bake!
Admittedly, I am still stunned about the election outcome November 8. I am very concerned about the impact of a Trump presidency on our country and on the District of Columbia; I will write more about that in the next newsletter. Given the cataclysmic results nationally, it was easy to overlook the local results. However, there was good news in D.C. elections; I was excited to see overwhelming voter support for D.C. Statehood. I also want to congratulate Robert White (D-At-Large), David Grosso (I-At-Large), Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), Brandon Todd (D-Ward 4), Vince Gray (D-Ward 7), and Trayon White (D-Ward 8) on winning four-year terms. Our fight for statehood doesn’t end with this month’s election results. I look forward to working with my new and returning colleagues to continue fighting for equal representation and ensuring that everyone—and I truly mean everyone—knows that they are welcome and protected in our city.
Thanksgiving also brings us closer to the end of Council Period 21, which concludes on December 20. There are two more Council legislative meetings left to push some of my policy priorities over the finish line—including paid family leave—so keep reading for a preview of what’s coming up in my office and how you can help!
In stressful times—and this week certainly qualifies as one for many of us—it’s important to get back to basics: good nutrition, sleep, and EXERCISE. So I hope you'll join me and a few Council colleagues, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, and Capital Bikeshare for a fall bike ride on the new Kenilworth section of the Anacostia River Trail TOMORROW, NOVEMBER 11, at 11:00 a.m. We’ll meet up at the Bikeshare station at 19th Street SE and East Capitol Street SE (near the Stadium-Armory Metro stop)! Bikeshare has agreed to waive user fees for anyone who wants to use a Bikeshare bike for the ride.
Unquestionably, this is a difficult issue. It is difficult for residents with terminal illness, it is difficult for their family and friends, it is difficult for legislators. This bill truly deals with life and death, and few bills in my time on the Council have generated this type of public engagement.
I have heard from many District residents and from people all over the country—and even received one email from Italy. People are very passionate about this issue and want to make sure we make the right decision.
Today, the D.C. Council took the first of two votes to strengthen the District’s approach to vacant and blighted properties, unanimously approving the Vacant Property Enforcement Amendment Act of 2016 at its regularly scheduled legislative meeting.
The legislation, which was introduced by Councilmember Elissa Silverman (At-Large, Independent) and co-introduced by nine colleagues, reforms the way the District government deals with vacant properties across the city. Specifically, it would reduce the maximum amount of time a vacant property can qualify for an exemption from higher vacancy tax rates and closes a loophole that allows continuous renewal of construction permits to qualify for tax exemptions. It would also require owners of vacant properties to prove they are no longer subject to the higher tax rates, rather than placing the responsibility on inspectors from the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) to re-inspect them every six months. The most recent report from DCRA indicates that there are nearly 1,300 properties designated as vacant or blighted in the District.
Team Silverman wishes our Washingtona strong finish to bring home the pennant!
Councilmember Silverman Introduces Bill Requiring Stop Work Orders Be Disclosed to Potential Homebuyers
Today, D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (At-Large) introduced a bill requiring property sellers in D.C. to disclose knowledge of any Stop Work Order issued on a property under consideration for purchase. The “Stop Work Order Disclosure and Regulation Amendment Act of 2016” will increase consumer protections by providing homebuyers with necessary information to make an educated purchase decision. The bill, which was co-introduced by Councilmembers Anita Bonds (At-Large), Mary Cheh (Ward 3), and Jack Evans (Ward 2), came as a result of resident testimony at oversight hearings on the District’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA).