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July 29, 2015

Posts in "Budget Autonomy"

May 28, 2015

Mendelson Cautious on Budget Autonomy Act

Mendelson, left, expects the Budget Autonomy Act will take effect. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Mendelson, left, is cautious about what’s next. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

For the first time, the District of Columbia could move forward with a budget that is not tied to the federal appropriations process, thanks to a court decision issued Wednesday.

“I have to confer with our general counsel, but I expect that we’re going to have to follow the law, which is budget autonomy. Which means we’ll be voting twice and sending the budget to the Congress as we do with any other law,” D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said in a phone interview. Full story

May 27, 2015

Bowser, Council Score D.C. Budget Autonomy Victory

Bowser's motion to dismiss the budget autonomy case appeal was granted Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Bowser’s motion to dismiss the budget autonomy case appeal was granted Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser and the D.C. Council scored a victory Wednesday in the ongoing court case surrounding a law granting D.C. more control over its local budget.

On the same day the D.C. Council debated the District’s budget, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit granted Bowser’s motion to dismiss the case’s appeal, which centered around a dispute between the D.C. Council and Bowser’s predecessor, Vincent Gray. Full story

April 8, 2015

National Watchdog Group Jumps Into D.C. Budget Autonomy Case

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton criticized the D.C. mayor and council. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton accused the D.C. mayor and council of playing “corrupt political games.” (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Judicial Watch, a national watchdog group, has inserted itself into the District of Columbia court case surrounding the Budget Autonomy Act, arguing the mayor and the District Council are wrong to support the act and are playing “corrupt political games.” Full story

April 7, 2015

Bowser and Racine Still at Odds in Budget Autonomy Case

Bowser doesn't agree with the city's elected attorney general about the Budget Autonomy Act. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Bowser doesn’t agree with the city’s elected attorney general about the Budget Autonomy Act. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The standoff between District of Columbia officials over the Budget Autonomy Act continued this week, with parties solidifying their positions in court filings and exposing a rift between the mayor and the attorney general.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser recently deviated from her predecessor, arguing that the act is legal, and has since filed a motion to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that the case should be dismissed. The case centered on a disagreement between two branches of D.C. government about the Budget Autonomy Act granting D.C. more control over its locally raised funds. Full story

March 16, 2015

Bowser Says D.C. Budget Autonomy Case Is Moot

Bowser said the Budget Autonomy Act is valid. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Bowser said the Budget Autonomy Act is valid. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser on Monday said an ongoing case over a law granting D.C. control over its local budget is moot, deviating from her predecessor and throwing the future of the case into question.

Bowser filed her response to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C Circuit after requesting the case be put on hold so she could solidify her position, as it began before she took office in January.

“Mayor Muriel Bowser hereby informs this court that her position differs from that of her predecessor,” Bowser’s lawyers wrote in her response. “She believes the Budget Autonomy Act is valid and, absent a judgment restraining her actions, intends to comply with its requirements. Mayor Bowser submits that, accordingly, there is no longer a live controversy between the council and the mayor.”

The case centers on a disagreement between two branches of D.C. government about the Budget Autonomy Act granting D.C. control over its locally raised funds. The act passed the council (when Bowser was a member) and was approved by District voters in April 2013. It took effect after passing a congressional review period last January, but the D.C. executive and legislative branches differed over whether it was actually legal.

Former Mayor Vincent C. Gray and then-Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan argued it could not move forward because Congress has control over D.C.’s budget. In May, a judge struck down the budget autonomy law, siding with Gray, but the council appealed the decision — that’s the case currently in question.

Though Bowser has argued the case is moot because the mayor’s office no longer disagrees with the council, Karl A. Racine, the District’s first elected attorney general, has taken the opposite position. Racine has said the act is not legal. The other party in the case, Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey S. DeWitt, agreed, and previously warned the referendum could violate the law.

The CFO is technically member of the executive branch, but he acts independently of the mayor’s office. Racine, who represents DeWitt in the case, said in a statement Monday evening that the CFO and Racine maintain their position that the act is illegal, pointing to U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan’s ruling that the act was invalid.

“CFO DeWitt and I agree with Judge Sullivan and regretfully conclude that the Budget Autonomy Act is unlawful and cannot be enforced by the District,” Racie said. “Judge Sullivan, in his 47-page ruling on the case, said that, although he was very sympathetic to the Budget Autonomy Act’s purpose, the Act was simply not legally sound. My independent review of the case confirmed that Judge Sullivan’s conclusion is correct under law, and the CFO and the Office of the Attorney General look forward to a timely final decision in the case.”

In addition to stating her position, Bowser also requested permission to file a suggestion of mootness and a motion to dismiss the appeal by March 23. During the case’s oral arguments in October, Judge Patricia A. Millett questioned whether a new administration would render the case moot, which budget autonomy activists took as a positive sign that the court was open to the possibility.

Related:

Fate of D.C. Budget Autonomy Case Uncertain

Could Nov. 4 Results Render D.C.’s Budget Autonomy Case Moot?

D.C. Budget Autonomy Ruling Is Just the Beginning of Local Control Fight

D.C. Budget Autonomy Amicus Brief Takes Slap at Congress

D.C. Council to Mayor: See You in Court

The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress

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February 21, 2015

Court Gives Bowser Budget Autonomy Deadline

Bowser filed a motion to pause the case, so she could review her position. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Bowser has until March 16 to make a decision. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals has paused an ongoing case over budget autonomy, giving Mayor Muriel Bowser until March 16 to solidify her position in the case, public court documents filed Friday show.

The decision comes after Bowser filed a motion for abeyance on Feb. 13, asking the court to suspend the case she inherited from her predecessor, Vincent C. Gray, which pitted the mayor’s office against the D.C. Council. In the order filed Friday, the circuit judges granted Bowser’s motion, giving her 30 days to review her position.

Full story

February 18, 2015

Fate of D.C. Budget Autonomy Case Uncertain

Bowser filed a motion to pause the case, so she could review her position. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Bowser filed a motion to pause the case, so she could review her position. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The ongoing case over a law granting the District of Columbia control over its local budget could be stalled as the mayor solidifies her position, raising questions about the future of the case.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, in conjunction with Attorney General Karl A. Racine, the District’s first elected attorney general, filed a motion with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Feb. 13 asking that the case pitting the mayor’s office against the D.C. Council be paused for 30 days so the mayor could review her position. Judges have yet to rule on the motion. Full story

February 2, 2015

Obama’s Budget Includes D.C. Marijuana, Budget Autonomy Provisions (Updated)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 5:49 p.m. | President Barack Obama waded into the debate about marijuana legalization in the District of Columbia, as well as budget and legislative autonomy, with a few provisions tucked into the fiscal 2016 budget proposal released Monday.

The proposal expands the District’s ability to set its own budget and spend local funds, rolling back sections of Congress’ 2015 spending package  that targeted social policies in D.C., particularly the city-wide initiative that would legalize the possession and cultivation of small amounts of marijuana. Full story

December 9, 2014

‘Cromnibus’ Would Ban D.C. From Legalizing Recreational Pot

The District will have to grapple with a new marijuana rider. ( Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The District will have to grapple with a new marijuana rider. ( Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Congress would block the District of Columbia from legalizing marijuana for recreational use, but preserve its decriminalization law, under the spending package released Tuesday night.

In the D.C. appropriations section, which allocates $680 million of federal funds to the District, is an amendment barring federal and local funds from being used “to enact any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or reduce penalties associated with the possession, use or distribution” of marijuana. The language would ban the city from enacting Referendum 71, a ballot initiative overwhelmingly approved by voters in November. Full story

November 5, 2014

D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan Resigns

The District of Columbia’s Attorney General, Irvin B. Nathan, tendered his resignation Wednesday, effective Nov. 17. Nathan’s resignation comes the day after D.C. voters elected attorney Karl A. Racine to succeed him.

“As this administration winds down in the six weeks after my departure, it is time for me to move on, to focus on some long neglected personal issues, and to formulate professional plans for the future,” Nathan wrote in his letter to Mayor Vincent Gray.

Gray said in a statement Wednesday that Chief Deputy Attorney General Eugene Adams will be named interim attorney general upon Nathan’s departure.

In his resignation letter, Nathan assured Gray he would help Racine transition to the office. Racine, the District’s first elected attorney general, will be sworn in in January.

“I pledge that we will make available to the full resources of our office to make a smooth transition to an elected Attorney General,” wrote Nathan, “so that the excellent team we have assembled can function for the benefit of our citizens for years to come.”

When Racine takes over the office, he will be thrust into an ongoing legal battle over the District’s attempt to achieve budget autonomy through an act passed by a voter referendum. The council, along with Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser, support the Budget Autonomy Act, but Racine agreed with Nathan’s decision not to comply with the legislation. So, the District may have to turn to Congress to receive authority over its budget.

Related:

D.C. Faces Statehood, Marijuana Challenges With Republican Congress

Rand Paul: Let D.C. Legalize Marijuana, If Voters Want

Could Nov. 4 Render D.C. Budget Autonomy Fight Moot?

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