Newsletter: Read This Before August!
After a marathon of hearings, roundtables, and a final legislative meeting, the D.C. Council is now on its summer legislative recess. During recess, the Council won’t be doing any official legislative business, but I’ll be using the time to get out in the community and prepare to get legislation over the finish line during the fall. So, if you have ideas for legislative fixes to glaring or under-the-radar problems you’re experiencing, I want to hear from you!
Many of my legislative accomplishments this year (some that you’ll read about below) have come from hearing directly from you through testimony at hearings, community meetings, emails, and neighborhood events. Thank you for continuing to stay engaged. In fact, one of the issues that has been of most interest to folks I’ve talked to is an issue that I want enlist your feedback on again: paid family leave!
My Labor Committee’s final hearing before recess was on paid family leave implementation with the Department of Employment Services (DOES). The proposed paid family leave tax regulations are available for public comment. If you have comments on how to make our paid leave program run smoothly, submit your comments to [email protected] by Sunday, August 5. My Committee is continuing to work with DOES to ensure our paid family leave program is the best that it can be.
Now, on to final legislative updates and more community news!
Being Poor Is No Reason to Lose Your Driver's License: You may have read the recent Washington Post article and editorial praising a bill ending license suspensions for outstanding parking and traffic ticket debt, which passed unanimously. You might not have realized that this originated with a bill I introduced last December, the Driver’s License Revocation Fairness Amendment Act of 2017, which was one of five bills incorporated into final legislation.
As the Post editorial so aptly stated—and, yes, the editorial page actually agreed with me—being poor is no reason to lose your license. In fact, license suspensions can have a domino effect. A Rutgers University study found that nearly half of all license suspensions lead to job loss. For those that lost their job, nearly half couldn’t find another one. For those who did find another job, the overwhelmingly majority had a lower income.
That’s why this bill is so important to helping break the cycle of poverty. To be clear, we will continue to suspend the licenses of unsafe drivers and those who put others at risk, just not for those who simply can’t afford to pay. I thank Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, who chairs the Transportation and Environment Committee, for her efforts to get this legislation passed. I also want to thank Tzedek DC, which provides legal services to D.C. residents overwhelmed with debt, for helping us craft the initial bill.
Making LLCs Transparent and Holding Slumlords Accountable: You might have seen the recent DCist article highlighting how home renovations can become a nightmare for adjacent neighbors. I repeatedly hear from residents how frustrating it is to hold developers accountable for property damage, and, earlier this month, the Committee of the Whole held a hearing on my Substandard Construction Relief bill that would provide stronger legal recourse for homeowners whose property is damaged by careless construction next door. I look forward to working with Chairman Mendelson to move this legislation to a vote quickly in the fall.
Before recess, I also introduced a complimentary bill that requires any LLC involved in real estate development to disclose every person with a financial interest in the organization to the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA). Currently, financial partners in an LLC don’t have to disclose their ownership stake, which has allowed slumlords and unscrupulous developers and contractors to hide behind the LLC corporate veil. I hope the Committee of the Whole will also hold a hearing on the Real Estate LLC Transparency Amendment Act of 2018 as soon as possible in the fall. You can follow the bill’s progress here.
Providing Youth with Meaningful Work Experience: The Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program (MBSYEP) is in full swing, which means I’m on my second tour of MBSYEP sites this summer. I visited Pendergrast Alston Consulting Services in Ward 4 earlier this month and look forward to stopping by sites in Ward 1, Ward 2, and Ward 7 before the program ends. Opportunities for our young people to develop foundational life skills that will prepare them for life after high school are critical to ensuring their ability to maintain jobs. That’s why creating apprenticeships and enhancing MBSYEP are some of my top priorities as chair of the Labor Committee. I like to livestream my site visits on Periscope when I can, so follow along here!
Celebrating Youth Leaders: I recently had the honor of joining a discussion with District youth leaders about the impact of youth violence and potential solutions the effect community change. Congratulations Talayia Richardson from LaSalle-Backus Education Campus and Tavon Jones from Wheatley Education Campus for being named the District’s two citywide winners in the “Do the Write Thing” Challenge, a national essay contest for middle school students focused on violence reduction. Special thanks to Attorney General Karl Racine and Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, who also chairs the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, for hosting the event!
Take a look at what’s coming up in the community below:
- D.C. Free Summer Meals Program: Monday, June 18, to Friday, August 17, and open to all children in the District ages 18 and under. There is no registration, no identification, and no parental guidance required to participate.
- Silverman Day at the National Building Museum: Tuesday, July 31, from 9:00-11:00am at the National Building Museum (401 F St. NW)
- Community Meeting with National Zoo Director: Tuesday, July 31, at 7:30pm at The Anne T. & Robert M. Bass Center (2661 Connecticut Ave. NW)
- East of the River Fall Fest: Friday, August 10, from 3:00-7:00pm at the Max Robinson Center (2301 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE)
- 6th Annual Health & Wellness Back 2 School Festival: Saturday, August 18, from 10:00am-3:00pm at the Columbia Heights Community Center (1480 Girard St. NW)
- Paid Family Leave Benefits Town Hall Forum: Thursday, August 23, at 6:00pm at Uline Arena (1140 Third St. NE)
Stay cool in this summer heat!