Christmas trees, menorah lightings, Kwanzaa celebrations, chestnuts roasting on an
open fire (ok, who actually does this?), and a slew of bills on the legislative agenda...sure signs that we’ve reached December and are nearing the end of the year!
Over the next week, the Council will take up a very full legislative agenda as we prepare to end Council Period 22. If you’re wondering what this means, the Council operates on a two-year cycle that coincides with election years. Council Period 22 will end at the close of 2018, and any legislation currently under consideration will either need to be finalized by the end of the year or re-introduced when Council Period 23 begins next year.
Keep reading for big legislative news!
A bill initially introduced in July by D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) that enables D.C. government to clearly identify and hold responsible all partners in real estate limited liability companies (LLCs) passed unanimously today on the first of two final votes. It is part of a package of legislation reforming the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) put forth by Chairman Phil Mendelson (D-At Large).
“It shouldn’t be a battle to find out who is responsible when a home is damaged by a developer or neglected by a bad landlord hiding behind an LLC,” Silverman said. “By lifting the corporate veil, this bill will enhance consumer protections and allow the city to go after bad contractors and slumlords more strategically.”
A bill introduced by D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) to protect D.C.’s lowest wage workers by putting equitable safeguards on debt collectors seeking wage garnishment passed unanimously today on the first of two D.C. Council votes. The legislation is one of several bills Councilmember Silverman has prioritized this year to provide additional tools to help District residents and working families break the cycle of poverty.
“Wage garnishment should not send workers and their families into an economic death spiral or come at the expense of income necessary for adequate housing, food, healthcare, or transportation,” said Silverman. “In a city with extremely high costs of living, we need to address how destabilizing wage garnishment is for working families, and its disproportionate impact on our residents of color.”
How is it almost Halloween?
I love how many of our neighborhoods use the holiday as a community block party, with trunk-or-treats and street-wide celebrations, and I look forward to seeing neighbors and fun costumes this Friday at Hilloween in Eastern Market. I’ll be making balloon animals and handing out candy (the good stuff), so make sure to find me if you stop by! My cat, Ousman, has been diligently guarding my candy stock (as you can see in the picture from last Halloween).
There's still good news for those that weren’t planning on grabbing treats at Hilloween: The Department of Parks and Recreation has spooky events planned all across the city starting this Friday and running over the weekend through next Wednesday. Take a look at the full list of Halloween events in every ward and keep reading for less spooky legislative news and community updates!
It has been said that politics is the art of the possible, of the attainable. In the debate over Initiative 77, which a majority of District residents approved in June to phase out D.C.’s subminimum tipped wage, I thought it was possible and attainable to strike a compromise in which we listen to voters, listen to tipped workers both for and against the measure, and listen to restaurant operators. That’s why I, along with a coalition of D.C. Council colleagues, proposed a package of amendments to address the key issues in Initiative 77. My belief is that D.C. residents want workers in hospitality, one of our most important industries, to be paid fairly and without fear of harassment, and for our restaurants, hotels, and other businesses that rely on tipped workers to continue to grow and thrive.
As many of you know, a majority of the Council rejected our compromise proposal and voted to repeal Initiative 77 on Tuesday. I disagreed with this approach, and I voted against repeal.
Silverman Legislation Building Pathways to District Government Careers Passes First Vote Unanimously
A bill introduced in April by D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) to establish clear pathways into District government careers for residents and native Washingtonians passed unanimously at the Council’s first legislative vote on the measure this week.
“Apprenticeships are one of our best tools to provide residents with opportunities to gain work experience and earn a paycheck at the same time,” Silverman said. “There are thousands of jobs in District government that we can leverage for residents looking for mentorship, careers, and meaningful, living wage work—especially for Wards 5, 7 and 8 where unemployment is the highest.”
The Pathways to District Government Careers Amendment Act of 2018 will do three primary things to provide District residents and graduates of the District’s high schools and other secondary schools with inroads into government jobs: (1) establish a public-sector apprenticeship initiative in District government, open to all District residents; (2) create partnerships between the Department of Human Resources and District secondary schools; and (3) require District agencies that are hiring for entry-level jobs to first consider applications from District residents who completed a District high school diploma or equivalent, before considering other applicants.
An Initiative 77 Compromise that Listens to Voters, Tipped Workers, and Restaurant Owners
In response to a legislative effort to repeal voter-passed Initiative 77, a coalition of Council members, including At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman, Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, and Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, worked together to develop a compromise that respects the voice of D.C. voters, responds to the concerns of restaurant operators and tipped employees, and protects the District's most vulnerable workers.
Councilmember Silverman will introduce an amendment proposing the compromise at the Council's Legislative Meeting on Tuesday, October 2.
Final language for the amendment, a comparative print of the legislation, and a summary of the compromise’s key components can be found below:
After a marathon of hearings, roundtables, and a final legislative meeting, the D.C. Council is now on its summer legislative recess. During recess, the Council won’t be doing any official legislative business, but I’ll be using the time to get out in the community and prepare to get legislation over the finish line during the fall. So, if you have ideas for legislative fixes to glaring or under-the-radar problems you’re experiencing, I want to hear from you!
Many of my legislative accomplishments this year (some that you’ll read about below) have come from hearing directly from you through testimony at hearings, community meetings, emails, and neighborhood events. Thank you for continuing to stay engaged. In fact, one of the issues that has been of most interest to folks I’ve talked to is an issue that I want enlist your feedback on again: paid family leave!
My Labor Committee’s final hearing before recess was on paid family leave implementation with the Department of Employment Services (DOES). The proposed paid family leave tax regulations are available for public comment. If you have comments on how to make our paid leave program run smoothly, submit your comments to email@example.com by Sunday, August 5. My Committee is continuing to work with DOES to ensure our paid family leave program is the best that it can be.
Now, on to final legislative updates and more community news!
Continuing her efforts to strengthen consumer protection and enhance building code enforcement within the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) introduced legislation earlier this week enabling DCRA to clearly identify and hold responsible all partners in real estate limited liability companies, known as LLCs. Currently, financial partners in an LLC do not have to disclose their ownership stake, which has allowed slumlords and unscrupulous developers and contractors to hide behind the LLC corporate veil.
The Real Estate LLC Transparency Amendment Act of 2018 requires that any LLC involved in real estate development must disclose to DCRA every person with a financial interest in the organization. The legislation was co-introduced by Councilmembers Robert White (D-At Large), Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1), Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), and Trayon White (D-Ward 8). Councilmember Anita Bonds (D-At Large) was a co-sponsor.
A bill ending automatic license suspensions for low-income residents who fail to pay debt from parking tickets or traffic tickets passed unanimously on second reading at this past Tuesday’s legislative session, the last before the D.C. Council heads into summer recess. The Driver’s License Revocation Fairness Amendment Act of 2017, originally introduced by Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) last December, was one of five bills incorporated into the Traffic and Parking Ticket Penalty Amendment Act of 2018 to reform the way the District processes and settles unresolved ticket debt.
“Suspending the licenses of low-income residents for inability to pay tickets ends up punishing people for being poor,” said Silverman. “Nearly half of all license suspensions lead to job loss, which makes it even harder to pay debt that made you lose your driving privileges in the first place.”