Newsletter: Happy Thanksgiving, Plus Legislative News!
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!
WHAT’S COMING UP ON OUR LEGISLATIVE AGENDA
Passing Paid Family Leave: For the past year, my office has been working with partners inside and outside of the Wilson Building to pass paid family leave for District employees and residents. Good news! Chairman Mendelson has said that the Council will take the first of two votes on paid family leave on December 6. Thank you to the D.C. Paid Family Leave Coalition for working tirelessly to provide opportunities for residents to voice their support.
Here’s what you can do to help get us over the finish line:
- Stay updated on what’s happening with the bill in real time to email and tweet my colleagues
- RSVP to show up on December 6 and express your support
Preventing Wage Theft for District Residents: It is hard to believe, but there are employers in our city who do not give workers a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. Instead, they pay less than the originally agreed upon wage, write checks that bounce when workers have no way of contacting the check writer, or simply stiff workers when the job is done. That’s what I heard from workers in a hearing l chaired as part of my duties as head of the Subcommittee on Workforce. You can access testimony from the October hearing here.
This is one of the reasons I am proud to have introduced the Wage Theft Prevention Clarification and Overtime Fairness Amendment Act of 2016, which received preliminary approval in a unanimous vote by the Council on November 15. Our wage theft prevention bill helps protect workers by making permanent a series of provisions covered in temporary acts the Council has passed over the last two years. Among other topics, the bill revises criminal penalties, clarifies how employers provide notice of the bill, aligns District law with federal overtime requirements that protect certain employees, and authorizes the D.C. Attorney General to enforce wage and sick leave laws in court.
These laws are crucial to providing a pathway to the middle class for everyone who lives or works in the District, but for all of these laws to be truly effective, we have to be sure they will be properly enforced.
Enforcing Vacant Property Reform: Also during the last legislative meeting, my colleagues unanimously passed the Vacant Property Enforcement Amendment Act I introduced earlier this year to help get vacant properties back into productive use and remedy unsafe blights on many neighborhoods across the city. You may have read in the City Paper that the bill tightens regulations on vacant properties and holds property owners accountable for keeping their properties in good working condition.
Thank you to Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, Chair of the Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs, for aggressively moving the bill forward. Thank you also to At-Large Councilmember Robert White for his partnership in making sure the legislation is judiciously enforced against bad actors without inadvertently targeting homeowners who have encountered delays through no fault of their own. You can read a full committee report on the legislation here.
Strengthening Homebuyer Protections: You may have also seen that I recently introduced a bill to strengthen consumer protections for District homebuyers. The legislation requires property sellers in D.C. to disclose knowledge of any Stop Work Order issued on a property under consideration for purchase. This bill was a result of testimony at hearings on our Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), in which residents said that, had they been aware stop work orders had been issued, it would have been a red flag for problems they learned of only after purchase.
I want to thank those who took time to testify and make my office aware of this persistent problem. We continue to experience a robust real estate market in the District as homes sell quickly, and we want that to continue. However, bad actors find ways to slip through the cracks. This bill will create a safety net for homebuyers when that happens. I look forward to continuing to work with DCRA Director Melinda Bolling and her staff to ensure renovated homes are safe and up to code when they’re sold.
WHAT’S COMING UP IN THE COMMUNITY
Strengthening Protections for Cyclists and Pedestrians: As a longtime cyclist and Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) member, I was thrilled to join WABA to celebrate the Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Act being signed into law last month. This month, I was equally excited to join nearly 100 cyclists for a Veterans Day Bike Ride on the new Anacostia River Trail! Thanks to WABA and its executive director, Greg Billing, as well as Capital Bikeshare for co-hosting the event with my office. Also thanks to Department of Energy and Environment Director Tommy Wells and National Parks Service Associate Regional Director Peter May for cycling with us!
The trail is absolutely beautiful, and it is a great way of escaping the city right inside the city. Stay tuned for details about another ride this spring! In the meantime, you can check out a few safety tips from WABA that are helpful to keep in mind.
Join me at some of these upcoming events below:
- 15th Annual Thanksgiving Day Trot for Hunger: Thursday, November 24, at 8:30 a.m. at Freedom Plaza (corner of 13th St NW and Pennsylvania Ave NW)
- Subcommittee on Workforce Hearing on the Fair Wage Amendment Act of 2016 (Bill 21-878): Tuesday, November 29, at 11:00 a.m. in Room 500 at the John A. Wilson Building (1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW)
- 10th Annual Ward 6 Brickie Awards: Thursday, December 1, from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. at The Apollo (600 H St NE)
- DPR Fun Day Camp (ages 6-12 years old): Friday, December 2, from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. at select DPR sites
- D.C. Council Markup of the Universal Paid Leave Act: Tuesday, December 6, from 9:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. at the John A. Wilson Building (1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW)
- EdFest: Saturday, December 10, from 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. at D.C. Armory (2001 E Capitol St SE)
Once again, Happy Thanksgiving! I’ll be celebrating with my family and some friends at my house on Capitol Hill. Thanks so much for reading.