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Check out the latest news and updates from Councilmember Silverman.

News Release: Silverman and Robert White Introduce D.C. Driving to Opportunity Act

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 30, 2021 – D.C. Councilmembers Elissa Silverman (I-At-Large) and Robert C. White, Jr. (D-At-Large) today introduced legislation that would end the automatic denial of the issuance and renewal of driver’s licenses for D.C. residents who have unpaid debt to the District. Currently, tens of thousands of residents are denied the ability to get or renew a license if they owe D.C. government as little as $100, which can prevent them from continuing to work or caring for their family.


April 27 Newsletter - Let's All Take Our Shot, the New Normal, and Q & A

We’ve all come up with coping mechanisms to deal with the challenges of this very difficult 13 months. One of mine has been a weekly Saturday morning bicycle ride with friends. It’s been a great way to get exercise, visit safely with friends, and explore our great city. Many times over the last year we rode at Hains Point, and that’s why last weekend’s news that two pedestrians walking there were killed after a driver struck them and fled the scene hit very close to home for me. Many mornings I walk at Hains Point as well.

Yesterday I learned that I knew one of the two DC residents who died: Waldon Adams, who has been a very persuasive and inspiring advocate for those experiencing homelessness in our city. For several years, I volunteered at Miriam’s Kitchen, which is located near the GW University campus and provides all kinds of services to those in need of food, housing and supportive services. Waldon was quite memorable because he was a marathoner and credited running with helping him overcome mental health and substance abuse challenges in his life. Sports has also helped me deal with stresses in my life, so I could relate. The person walking with Waldon last weekend also had experienced homelessness and worked to advocate for others, Rhonda Whitaker.

Walking or biking shouldn’t be treacherous in our city. We need to make our streets safer for all modes of transit, including in our National Park Service areas as well. I do not serve on the Council’s Transportation Committee, but I vow to work more with Transportation Chair Mary Cheh to make our streets safer. We have put in place policies to encourage non-car travel but we need to put money and infrastructure behind these policies. I know Councilmember Cheh is going to be holding a hearing on this, and I plan to work with her as constructively as possible. My sincere condolences to friends and family of Waldon and Rhonda.

Our answers to this week’s Top 10 questions are below.


D.C. Council Announces Public Roundtable on Unemployment Insurance

Councilmember Elissa Silverman, Chairperson of the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, and Councilmember Robert C. White, Jr., Chairperson of the Committee on Government Operations and Facilities, will hold a joint public oversight roundtable on the District’s unemployment compensation programs and related contracts.  The roundtable will be held over two days:  May 5, 2021, at 9 a.m. for public witness testimony and May 12, 2021,  at 9 a.m. for government witness and contractor testimony. The Committees have invited leadership of On Point, which operates the claimants’ online portal, and Codice and Capitol Bridge, which have been contracted to augment the UI call center, to attend.

Tune in on DC Cable Channel 13 and online at www.dccouncil.gov.


Follow-up Letter from DOES Director on Unemployment Insurance Issues

On March 11, Councilmember Elissa Silverman, chair of the DC Council's Labor and Workforce Development Committee, sent a letter highlighting four ways for the District to resolve unemployment insurance issues. The letter to Department of Employment Services Director Unique Morris-Hughes came after the Department's performance oversight hearing, where councilmembers heard from dozens of witnesses who could not get issues resolved with the Department.

Director Morris-Hughes initially responded with a letter to committee members on April 7, and we received follow-up correspondence on April 19.


April 12 Newsletter

Today, April 12, D.C. opens up eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine to everyone ages 16 and older. If you are 16 and older, I encourage you to get vaccinated, and if you have concerns about taking the shot, feel free to write to me. I can help you get your questions answered. There are a number of ways to get a vaccine appointment that are detailed in the answer to the first question in the Q&A section below.

Also today, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a new Website and phone number for rent and utilities assistance. The program, STAY DC, will provide up to 12 months of past due rent payments from April 2020 and three months of rental assistance moving forward if you qualify due to income. There is also financial assistance for water, gas, and electric utilities. The website is stay.dc.gov and phone number is 833-478-2932 (833-4-STAYDC). See the Q&A section for additional information, and I’ll spend more time on this in next week’s newsletter.


Q & A: The American Rescue Plan and DC Workers

What’s In It for Me?

The American Rescue Plan will bring 2.2 billion federal dollars over the next three years to the District of Columbia, including extensions of various unemployment compensation programs. If you received Unemployment Insurance (UI) or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) in 2020 and have not returned to work, you are likely eligible for the additional benefits in the American Rescue Plan. Typically, unemployment benefits can last up to a year, but the American Rescue Plan extends UI beyond the traditional year timeframe

The American Rescue Plan continues through September 2021 the $300/week supplemental payment to UI and PUA recipients that was made available beginning in late December 2020.

Here’s how the plan will impact you if you collect unemployment compensation, broken out by program and extensions:

 


DOES Director Responds to Labor Committee's March 11 Letter on Addressing Unemployment Insurance Issues

On March 11, Councilmember Elissa Silverman, chair of the DC Council's Labor and Workforce Development Committee, sent a letter highlighting four ways for the District to resolve unemployment insurance issues. The letter to Department of Employment Services Director Unique Morris-Hughes came after the Department's performance oversight hearing, where councilmembers heard from dozens of witnesses who could not get issues resolved with the Department.

Director Morris-Hughes responded on April 7. Here are some important points:

  • While the Director would not promise a claims processing "blitz," DOES has hired 100 new contract staff adjudicators who will be concentrating on processing all remaining claims.
  • Again, there will be no "blitz," but staff at DOES will work to send robocalls and text messages to claimants regarding their right to request higher weekly benefit amounts.
  • Interstate Program Coordinators will continue to reach out daily to their counterparts in Maryland and Virginia regarding DC claimants experiencing difficulties in those jurisdictions.
  • DOES is reviewing the Biden Rescue Plan in order to develop clear guidance and timelines for the new benefit extensions and has issued a fact sheet on the federal plan.

Silverman Statement on the Death of Washington Teachers’ Union President Elizabeth Davis

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 5, 2021D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At-Large), chair of the Council’s Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, issued the following statement on the death of Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) President Elizabeth Davis:


News Release: Silverman Introduces Emergency Legislation to Protect Family Leave Benefit Payments to DC Workers

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 2, 2021 – D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At-Large) introduced emergency legislation this week to protect paid family leave benefits to District workers who also hold short-term disability insurance plans. Since D.C.’s groundbreaking Universal Paid Leave program started paying benefits to workers in July 2020, some District insurance companies have been subtracting the money workers expect to receive from the D.C. paid leave program from the amount they pay out to claimants who have short-term disability policies.  


March 29 Newsletter - Your Questions on Schools, Unemployment - Answered!

I’m continuing with the question and answer format in this newsletter. Topics include: DCPS' announcement that it would adopt the CDC guidance of three-feet social distancing for students; the DC statehood hearing in the House of Representatives; updates on unemployment compensation; vaccines; and, rental assistance.