What We Did!
NEWSLETTER — NOVEMBER 4, 2022
In just a few weeks Council Period 24 will come to an end, and with it, my government service to the residents and businesses of the District of Columbia given the election results.
It will also bring to a close two years of exceptional work by the Labor and Workforce Development Committee, which I chair. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a frightening time for many of our workers and local businesses, and I am very proud of the role our committee played to make sure that there was an economic safety net in place. My committee and constituent services staff helped thousands of workers navigate the unemployment insurance system, and we worked with the Department of Employment Services to make payments to workers who lost jobs through no fault of their own. We also worked with unions and employers, and through the budget, our committee appropriated $40 million to help our hospitality and retail businesses keep workers on payroll.
And that’s just our pandemic-related efforts. In the last two years, we also increased the economic security of District workers in the public and private sectors, worked to enact new workers’ rights, expanded our year-round youth employment programs, and created critical career pipelines into healthcare, IT, and infrastructure careers for District residents.
At the end of each Council period, the Committee releases a report of its activities. The Council Period 24 report was released yesterday. I’d like to highlight just a few items:
- We moved legislation to treat domestic workers who take care of our kids and family members as they should be treated: the same as all other workers.
- We created a groundbreaking law to ensure that workers aren’t penalized for legally using cannabis in their personal time.
- We created, expanded, and made permanent a paid internship program for District high school students. Every year, there are now 1,000 internships available because of this funding and legislation.
- The Committee created career pathways for employment into our biggest industries, such as healthcare, IT and infrastructure, in an effort to close the income gap between Black and white workers in our city. If you want to go into nursing at our public university you can do that for free.
- We banned non-compete agreements that stifle workers’ ability to change jobs or take on second jobs.
- We expanded paid leave for private sector and public sector workers, and we established the first personal medical leave for our DC government workforce.
This happened through collaboration with community members who advocated, emailed, called, and rallied for these policies. Again, these policies which make life better for working families in our city happened because of the tireless voices and energy of so many residents who made it their mission to improve our city. I also want to thank my colleagues on the Council who stood with me and voted for these policies. Finally, I couldn’t have done any of this work without my dedicated and strategic Committee and Council staff. It is heartbreaking to me that I won’t be able to continue to work with this extremely talented group of District residents every day, but it is solace that they will continue to lend their skills to our city in other ways.
I encourage you to read the full report of the Committee’s activities over the past two years.
Domestic Worker Employment Rights Act Update
The Domestic Worker Employment Rights Act moved swiftly through the Business and Economic Development Committee on Thursday and will go to the full Council for a vote on Dec. 6! It’s been a long road and the advocates and workers themselves have been heroic voices propelling this legislation forward. The bill secures workplace rights for nearly 10,000 domestic workers in DC, such as housekeepers, nannies, and home health aides, that D.C. employees who work outside of a home already have.
Sports Betting Bill Moves Forward
I’m pleased to report that the Business and Economic Development Committee has scheduled a hearing on my sports betting bill for Dec. 13.
DC’s sole-source Gambet app was rushed so that D.C. would be first in the region with a sports betting app. The result has been a disaster and now Maryland has leap-frogged the District, rolling out sports betting tomorrow. My bill would bring more revenue to support District programs (and a better experience for players) to the District. While it won’t pass before the end of the year, I’m confident that another Councilmember will re-introduce the bill next year. Having the hearing already out of the way will smooth the way for a quicker vote and passage next year.
The My School DC public school lottery application is now open for the 2023-24 school year. And you can sign up for the virtual #EdFEST22 public school fair. Go to MySchoolDC.org.
Last year I established and funded the DC Nurse Education Enhancement Program with tuition assistance for University of the District of Columbia undergrads and stipends for Workforce Development students. Last week, the Council passed legislation I introduced to allow stipends for community college nursing students, too!
We need more healthcare professionals in DC, especially nurses of all levels. This program and the added stipend option help address the shortage of healthcare workers and creates pathways to successful careers for residents.
D.C. Housing Authority Reform
We’ve talked a lot lately about the D.C. Housing Authority. Now, it's time for action.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released a damning report in early October that identified significant problems, including failed procurement processes and nearly a quarter of public housing units sitting empty. The Council passed my emergency legislation to require that staff and board members get the training they need to do their jobs, but we know it’s not nearly enough. Since then, we’ve heard about more and more and more problems at the agency.
I’m glad to see that Councilmember Anita Bonds has scheduled a roundtable on the HUD report for Nov. 30. Unfortunately, only DCHA staff will speak at this one, though the Chair of the Housing and Executive Administration Committee says opportunities for public testimony are coming. In the meantime, if there are questions you’d like me to ask during this hearing, please send them to me at [email protected]. If you have questions about this, please reach out to Maya Brennan from my staff at [email protected].
Meanwhile, my staff and I have been working on this issue for some time (since before the HUD report) and I will introduce legislation before the end of the year to significantly reform DCHA. Nothing short of an overhaul of how the authority operates will fix these longstanding systemic issues. The legislation won’t pass during this council period, of course, but I want to leave a blueprint for moving forward that can be taken up by the next Council.
We’re still here!
There’s still a month before the end of my term here at the Council and my staff and I are still available to assist with constituent service needs — especially, but not only, unemployment insurance and other matters with the Department of Employment Services.
Contact us at https://www.elissasilverman.com/contact_us or by phone: 202-724-7772. For any matters that are still unresolved at the end of the year, we’ll work with the Councilmember from your ward to ensure that they can close things out for you.