Newsletter: Back to Legislative Business!
Kids are back in school; outdoor pools had doggy swims (except for East Potomac Park, which remains open until Oct. 16); and now comes the true finale of a D.C. summer: The D.C. Council ends its legislative recess and resumes official business on Friday.
I’ve spent this summer recess meeting residents, discussing policy ideas with my team and District agency leadership, and taking some time to rest and reset before making the final push on legislative goals to meet before this Council session concludes at the end of December. I want to share a few updates on where I’ve been this summer and what legislation I’ll be working hard to pass this fall.
There’s also a preview of a few events I look forward to supporting in the coming weeks, so keep reading!
WHAT’S COMING UP ON OUR LEGISLATIVE AGENDA
Here are a few policy goals I’m pushing this fall. As I noted above, this December will conclude the two-year cycle of Council Period 21, so bills that do not pass will have to largely restart next year.
Paid Family Leave: I want D.C. to join California, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and now New York by the end of this year in putting in place a paid family leave policy! We can do it with your help. You may have seen my statement at the start of recess about this issue. Still, momentum to pass a comprehensive paid family leave program in the District has been steadily growing over the summer. A number of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANC) have been passing resolutions in support of paid leave, and I continue to receive emails from residents excited to see the Council commit to a program in the fall.
As my colleagues and I prepare for the legislative session to restart, I encourage you to learn more about how you can help by following weekly updates from the D.C. Paid Family Leave Coalition. I look forward to seeing familiar—and hopefully new—faces at their Rally at the Council on Tuesday, September 20 from 8:15 - 9:30 a.m. to demand action on paid leave. With your help, it will be a reality this year!
Making D.C. the 51st State: November is quickly approaching when you and other District residents will go to the polls to vote on the District becoming the 51st state. I encourage you to vote yes on the referendum. It is important we have an overwhelming majority in support of statehood.
You may have heard about the city’s most recent statehood campaign to educate and build support for statehood on WAMU. I fully support D.C. statehood and hope to see a more inclusive and collaborative process to finalize a state constitution. The Committee of the Whole is holding two hearings for residents to voice support, ideas, and concerns. You can find out more information here for the first hearing on Tuesday, September 27 at 11:00 a.m. and here for the second hearing on Thursday, October 6 at 6:30 p.m.
Better Vacant Property Policy: I want to thank the residents who braved the July heat to come to the hearing on my two bills to strengthen our approach to vacant properties, particularly ANC Commissioners David Sheon and Mark Eckenwiler. Due to the resignation of Vincent Orange from the Council, the Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs, which he chaired and which these two bills are in, will likely be consumed by Chairman Mendelson and the Committee of the Whole. Our office has been working constructively with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs on these bills, and I am optimistic the Council will move forward with them.
Protecting Residents from Displacement: In July, you may have also seen that the cost of the Wizards practice facility set to be built at St. Elizabeths campus in Ward 8 has risen $10 million before construction has even begun. I was extremely disappointed to learn that, despite the increase in cost, the facility will now be smaller and have fewer seats for fans. This ultimately means fewer jobs and less economic benefit for Ward 8 residents. You can read my full statement here.
At a hearing on the practice facility this March, Ward 8 residents expressed how important jobs, economic growth, and community benefits will be as this project moves forward. I also heard concerns that residents in the area surrounding St. Elizabeths campus would be pushed out of the neighborhood by rising costs of living. That’s why I introduced a displacement prevention bill with Ward 8 Councilmember LaRuby May. Residents that have invested in their neighborhoods for years deserve to enjoy the benefits of community growth, and I hope to see progress on the bill this fall.
WHERE WE’VE BEEN
It’s been an exciting summer building new partnerships across the city and getting to hear from longtime and newer residents around town. From my Community Day with the Nationals to joining Ward 4 residents at the Jefferson Street Block Party to discussing homelessness and workforce opportunities with Sasha Bruce youth, it has been an eventful two months. Take a look at more pictures of what we’ve been up to over the summer weeks here on Facebook and here on Twitter.
There are still quite a few weeks left of nice weather, and I hope to see many more of you around the city with my staff. Here are a few upcoming events I hope you will add to your calendars:
- DCPS Chancellor Search Community Forum: Wednesday, September 14 from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. at Savoy Elementary School (2400 Shannon Place SE)
- H Street Festival: Saturday, September 17 from 12:00 - 7:00 p.m. on H Street (between 4th & 14th Streets NE)
- D.C. Paid Family Leave Rally at the Council: Tuesday, September 20 from 8:15 - 9:30 a.m. at the John A. Wilson Building (1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW)
- Ward 5 Department of Parks and Recreation Town Hall: Thursday, September 22 from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. at the Turkey Thicket Recreation Center (1100 Michigan Avenue NE)
- Committee of the Whole Hearing on the New Columbia Draft Constitution: Tuesday, September 27 beginning at 11:00 a.m. in Room 500 at the John A. Wilson Building (1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW)
I look forward to kicking off the beginning of the session with a Council meeting next week and passing legislation this Council period that brings greater opportunity and improves the quality of life for all District residents.