Newsletter: Legislative Initiatives
On several occasions--including yesterday when I absentmindedly barreled into her leadership team coming off the elevator--Mayor Muriel Bowser has said that we are the "new kids on the block." Yet the Mayor certainly proved herself to be a poised and forceful advocate for the District when faced with Congressional meddling into the implementation of Initiative 71 last week. I applaud and stand with the mayor on this; I believe the will of District voters should be upheld. If you have questions about the implementation of Initiative 71, here is information.
I also want to thank the mayor for taking action on another issue: trash. The Bowser administration made a 72-hour "all hands on deck" push to do trash collection last weekend in alleys which had been skipped due to inclement weather. I received inquiries from some of you about this, and let me know if you are still waiting for collection.
Initiative 71 stole the headlines last week, but the Council also held important performance oversight hearings, including in the three committees in which I am a member. I also attended a very interesting forum on homelessness, sponsored by advocacy groups and service providers which are part of The Way Home Campaign. The main takeaway was that putting chronically homeless in housing and then providing the supportive services these residents need--what is known as the housing first approach--is not only more humane but more cost-effective for the District.
Today was a big day for our office. This morning at the Council's legislative session, I introduced two bills that will bring greater transparency and accountability to our government and our city. I want to thank my legislative team for getting these bills into shape, with big kudos to Legislative Director Ari Weisbard and Chief of Staff Kitty Richards.
The first bill was a co-introduction with At-Large Council member David Grosso, who chairs the Council's Committee on Education. The "Public Charter School Fiscal Transparency Amendment Act of 2015" gives D.C.'s Public Charter School Board more tools to review the financial operations of schools, identify conflicts of interest, and make sure that expenditures are made in the interest of kids, parents, and educators--not in the financial self-interest of school leaders. As many of you know, this has been an issue with two charter school operators recently. I want to thank Council Member Grosso and his staff, as well as the D.C. Public Charter School Board, for working with me and my staff on this important bill. You can read the bill here.
The "Wage Theft Prevention Clarification and Overtime Amendment Act of 2015," which I introduced along with five colleagues, builds on the wage theft prevention bill that was passed toward the end of last year. The bill makes permanent some emergency and temporary clarification acts made since then. It authorizes the Mayor to issue regulations, sets maximum penalty levels, and clarifies how employers receive and provide notice of the act in languages other than English. In addition, the bill closes a longstanding loophole that prevented parking lot attendants from being protected under the District's overtime law, even though there are overtime requirements for these workers under federal law. Workers in parking lots and garages earn some of the lowest wages in our city; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage in 2013 for these workers was $9.15 an hour, which was legal then but less than today's minimum wage of $9.50. You can read the bill here.
This week, I want to ask for your help.
As I start to settle into the Wilson Building, I don't want to lose touch with grassroots events happening across our city. I want you--or at least some of you--to keep me informed of what is happening in your neighborhoods and in your wards.
So I am asking for volunteers to be part of ward teams to keep me and my office plugged in. If you are interested in helping me with this effort, please contact my special projects coordinator, Ian Maggard (firstname.lastname@example.org). Ian and I are hoping that we can get several residents from each ward to help be the eyes and ears for our office, as well as let us know of meetings and events to attend. Please contact Ian if you'd like to help.
Thanks so much.