Newsletter: Paid Leave Passes in 2016! On to 2017!
Happy New Year! I want to wish you and your family a very joyous, healthy, and productive 2017. Thank you for your support these past two years.
Today, I joined my colleagues in swearing in one new member, Trayon White representing Ward 8; one returning member, Vincent Gray representing Ward 7; and four current members, Jack Evans representing Ward 2, Brandon Todd representing Ward 4, and at-large colleagues Robert White and David Grosso. Congratulations to all, and I look forward to working with them as the new chairman of the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development! In the new Council period, I will also remain a member of the Committees on Finance and Revenue and Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization.
I think we all agree 2016 will be a year to remember! For many of us, national politics has been heart-wrenching, but I hope you feel that local politics has provided a hopeful path forward.
One of those rays of light hit the front page of the Washington Post right before the holidays: On Tuesday, Dec. 20, I voted with a supermajority of my Council colleagues to approve the Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2016. This bill will create a social insurance system that will provide up to eight weeks of annual paid leave to new parents for a birth or adoption; up to six weeks for District workers to care for a sick loved one; and up to two weeks for District workers in need of personal medical leave. You can read my full press release here, and please check out the WAMU overview of everything you need to know about how the program works.
The bill will now be transmitted to Mayor Bowser and then to Congress. The District just took a historic step towards ensuring that our workers have equal access to paid family and medical leave, and I hope that all of our partners will work together to make sure the future program is successful.
LEGISLATIVE ACCOMPLISHMENTS THIS COUNCIL PERIOD
I’m looking forward to getting big things done these next two years, but I want to take a moment to review the significant legislative accomplishments we made as an office and as a Council in Council Period 21, which just ended. Over the last two years, I’m honored to have had a chance to serve the District and work with my policy team to move several key pieces of legislation through the Council. Whether it was through the budget or by a successful Council vote, these bills have become law and will improve the lives of District residents. Here’s a short list of some of our biggest wins:
Providing District businesses and families with a comprehensive paid family and medical leave program through the passage of the “Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2016”;
Successfully advocating to strengthen the District’s inclusionary zoning rules to allow for more affordable housing;
Passing the “Vacant Property Enforcement Amendment Act of 2016” to reduce the number of vacant and blighted properties in the District;
Amending the District’s wage theft and overtime rules through the “Wage Theft Prevention Clarification and Overtime Fairness Amendment Act of 2016”;
Increasing the District’s unemployment weekly benefit;
Increasing the wages for older participants in the Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program; and
Ensuring that several key items were included in the Fiscal Year 2017 Budget, such as:
$15 million for public housing repairs;
$8 million restored to the Housing Production Trust Fund; and
Funding for new staff at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and the Office of the Tenant Advocate.
WHAT’S ON TAP FOR 2017
Committee on Labor and Workforce Development: For the next two years, during Council Period 22, I will chair the Council’s newly created Committee on Labor and Workforce Development. I’m excited to take on this role, which will allow me to focus on ways to get our residents into career pathways for living wage jobs and to improve labor standards. This also means that I will continue to work with businesses, advocates, nonprofits, and residents across the city on ways to provide equal work opportunities for all District residents. Along with economic fairness, I will also be devoted to ensuring that the District remains economically competitive in the region.
The Committee on Labor and Workforce Development is responsible for issues including employment services, workforce development, unemployment compensation, and occupational safety and health. As of now, it will oversee fourteen District government agencies, including the Department of Employment Services, the Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity, the Workforce Investment Council, and the Apprenticeship Council.
In addition to chairing the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, I will be a member of the Committees on Finance and Revenue, Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization, and Government Operations.
A FEW FINAL KUDOS
Thank you to everyone who attended my first annual holiday celebration at Compass Coffee! My staff and I had a fantastic time catching up over cookies and jelly donuts and introducing everyone to one of our newest additions to our office. Most importantly, with your help, we were able to support a great cause and donate two full bins of children’s gifts to Toys for Tots.
Special thanks to Pat Joseph and Charnisa Royster in my office for coordinating our donation, and huge thanks to Compass Coffee owners Harrison Suarez and Michael Haft for their continued partnership.
2016 has truly been a year for the record books. I hope you will watch a short holiday message from my office and accept our warm wishes for peace, joy, and good health in 2017.
Happy New Year!