Newsletter: Holiday Party and Paid Leave Info! Important Reading!
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.
WHAT’S UP WITH OUR LEGISLATIVE AGENDA
Paid Family Leave: You probably remember from last week’s update that this upcoming legislative meeting will include the second vote on paid family leave, which is the final vote before the bill is transmitted to Mayor Bowser to sign. With American Express just announcing 20 weeks of paid leave for all U.S. employees with a new child, there continues to be a lot of local and national buzz about our historic bill. The buzz includes a segment on NPR’s All Things Considered Weekend, in which I discussed some of the local response with Michel Martin (a Ward 4 resident).
As I said during the interview, the District’s economy is one of the strongest in the country and stronger than our neighbors. The Economic and Policy Impact Statement on D.C.'s proposed paid leave program from the Council’s Office of the Budget Director analyzed programs in other states, as well as projected the impact on our economy, and found paid leave will bring very tangible benefits to businesses and workers—"all without making the city's strong economy miss a beat," which is also the conclusion of Jared Bernstein, the former chief economist for Vice President Joe Biden. You can read Bernstein and Ed Lazere's Washington Post op-ed here.
And there’s plenty of evidence for this conclusion. As with banning smoking in restaurants, raising the minimum wage, and giving workers paid sick days—despite the doomsday predictions by business lobbyists—our economy remains robust and strong. In fact, Urban Institute just released a study that showed our economy is stronger when we put measures like paid leave in place to reduce income inequality and increase racial and gender income equity.
Once again, for the second vote, my colleagues need to hear your encouragement to vote firmly in favor of passage! Who else voted yes last time? Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd, Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, Ward 8 Councilmember LaRuby May, At-Large Councilmember Robert White, At-Large Councilmember David Grosso, At-Large Councilmember Anita Bonds, and Chairman Phil Mendelson.
We’re almost there. Together, we can make this happen!
Digital Billboards at Nats Park: Over the last couple of weeks I’ve heard from many of you on a proposal to bring Verizon Center-esque electronic billboards to Nationals Park. Last Tuesday, the Council considered the bill, the Nationals Park Graphics and Entertainment Regulatory Amendment Act of 2016. Unfortunately I was the only Council member to vote against it. You may have read in the Washington City Paper that I have serious concerns about resident quality of life, property values, public safety, and the aesthetics of the South Capitol Street corridor—one of the major entryways to our Nation’s Capital.
But more than anything, I am concerned we are rushing this bill. Every resident at the hearing, or at least those who don’t have a vested interest in the signs, testified against the bill. The affected ANC is also opposed. While I appreciate the hard work my colleagues have done to address concerns, I still think we should take our time with such an important bill that could have implications for how we deal with digital signs throughout the city. Thanks again for your input.
IN THE COMMUNITY
We’re in the home stretch at the Wilson Building, with the end of Council Period 21 approaching on Dec. 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, Dec. 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. I also 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!
Along with this Sunday’s Holiday Party at Compass Coffee, here are a few other free events around the city to keep in mind:
- African American Civil War Museum Holiday Party: Thursday, Dec. 15, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the African American Civil War Museum (1925 Vermont Avenue NW)
- The Procrastinator’s Holiday Market: Friday, Dec. 16, through Sunday, Dec. 18, at the Forman Mills Shopping Center (680 Rhode Island Avenue NE)
- The Washington National Cathedral Christmas Pageant: Saturday, Dec. 17, from 2:00-3:30 p.m. at the National Cathedral (3101 Wisconsin Avenue NW)
- Capitol Hill BID/Hill Havurah Menorah Lighting Ceremony: Monday, Dec. 26, at 5:00 p.m. at 8th and Pennsylvania Avenue SE. Join the BID and my congregation, Hill Havurah, for hot chocolate and Hanukkah treats! All are welcome!
- Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum’s Annual Kwanzaa Celebration: Tuesday, Dec. 27, through Thursday, Dec. 29, at Fort Stanton Recreational Center (1810 Erie Street SE)
- D.C. Council Swearing-In: Monday, Jan. 2, at 10:00 a.m. at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, West Salon (801 Mount Vernon Place NW)
This has been a tough year, but I’m pumped for an uplifting end to 2016 with a paid leave victory for District residents. I hope you are too.
And I hope to see you Sunday!