Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 29, 2014

Posts in "Capitol Hill Neighborhood"

July 29, 2014

Judge Stays D.C. Handgun Ruling for 90 Days

A federal judge on Tuesday put a hold on the ruling that overturned the District’s ban on carrying handguns in public, effectively giving D.C. police and law enforcement some space to figure out how to respond.

The July 26 ruling by U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. declaring the gun law unconstitutional threw Metropolitan Police Department and legal officials into rapid, confusing response. D.C. police were ordered on Sunday not to arrest people for carrying registered pistols and deadly weapons in public — a directive that effectively put them in the position of recognizing all other jurisdiction’s handgun permits.

MPD Chief Cathy L. Lanier and District officials requested the stay on Monday evening, saying it would allow them to pursue an appeal and enact a “licensing mechanism” consistent with the ruling and the Second Amendment. Full story

July 28, 2014

In D.C., Response to Judge’s Handgun Ruling Is Mixed and Muddled (Updated)

Updated 6:01 p.m. | For all practical purposes, a federal judge’s weekend ruling that overturned local laws prohibiting District of Columbia residents from carrying guns outside of their homes has opened the door for non-residents to tote handguns into the city and has made it potentially easier for members and staffers to transport firearms across the District to the Capitol.

D.C. police have been ordered not to arrest people for carrying pistols and deadly weapons in public. Washingtonians can still face criminal charges for carrying unregistered firearms and ammunition, but the millions of people who visit the nation’s capital are exempt from those provisions under an order from Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier. The chief’s guidance effectively put the District’s firearm regulations, at least for non-residents, on a par with the most permissive gun jurisdictions in the country. D.C. police got additional guidance from Lanier on Monday afternoon. She clarified that the ruling applies only to handguns, not long guns or shotguns that are still illegal, and that committing crimes with handguns remains illegal.

For non-residents, legal possession of a handgun in D.C. is based on the laws of their home jurisdiction, meaning D.C. police will be responsible for knowing and enforcing licensing and permitting restrictions from around the country. Lanier noted that additional information on gun laws in other states will be forthcoming and said that in the meantime, officers can call a 24-hour information line.

Lanier’s orders came in response to Judge Frederick Scullin Jr.’s July 26 ruling in Palmer v. District of Columbia that D.C.’s complete ban on the carrying of handguns in public is unconstitutional. In the 19-page decision, Scullin wrote that he was stopping enforcement of the law “unless and until” the city adopted a constitutionally valid licensing mechanism.

In her follow-up guidance to officers, Lanier nodded to the confusion. “Unfortunately, this ruling has left many unanswered legal questions that are currently being reviewed by the [Office of the Attorney General],” she stated.

Federal laws and a portion of D.C. code still prohibit people from carrying weapons on Capitol grounds, according to Capitol Police spokeswoman Lt. Kimberly Schneider. But members and staffers already have weapons privileges for the Capitol campus dating back decades.  Full story

Charges in Campus Handgun Cases Could Change in Wake of D.C. Handgun Ruling

Charges against two men whom Capitol Police allegedly stopped from bringing 9 mm handguns to Capitol Hill could change, as attorneys scramble to interpret the effect of a federal judge overturning the District’s handgun ban.

On July 26, Judge Frederick Scullin Jr. ruled in Palmer v. District of Columbia that D.C.’s complete ban on the carrying of handguns in public is unconstitutional. In the 19-page decision, Scullin wrote that he was stopping enforcement of the law “unless and until” the city adopted a constitutionally valid licensing mechanism.

D.C. police were subsequently instructed not to enforce the law against carrying pistols in public. In two separate incidents that are raising questions about campus security, Hill staffer Ryan Shucard and pork executive Ronald William Prestage were charged with violating that law when police uncovered handguns and magazines during administrative searches at the Cannon House Office building. Full story

July 21, 2014

Queen Bee Hawking Jewelry for the ‘Powers That Bee’ on Capitol Hill

bee2 330x330 Queen Bee Hawking Jewelry for the Powers That Bee on Capitol Hill

Brooks brings her creations to the Hill on Tuesday and Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of Allison Priebe Brooks)

A jewelry designer with a knack for brightening up Washington’s prim business attire brings her signature necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings to Capitol Hill this week for an exclusive trunk show and sale.

Senate staffer-turned-accessory entrepreneur Allison Priebe Brooks, founder of Queen Bee Designs, will set up shop at Cornerstone Government Affairs, 300 Independence Ave. SE, on Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. With a client list that includes House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La.; Rep. Linda T. Sánchez, D-Calif., and plenty of congressional spouses, she expects to see plenty of traffic from the powers that be — “or bee” — as Brooks likes to joke.

“Working on the Hill, people seem to dress really conservatively,” Brooks said in an interview with CQ Roll Call. “Our jewelry creates a buzz,” she said, pairing well with everything from neutral power suits to cocktail attire. Full story

July 16, 2014

D.C. Pot Decriminalization Takes Effect, but Don’t Bring Bud to Capitol Hill

weed 9 120408 440x293 D.C. Pot Decriminalization Takes Effect, but Dont Bring Bud to Capitol Hill

If it’s Thursday, this is now a civil offense. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Despite House Republican attempts to derail decriminalization, marijuana possession becomes a civil offense in the District of Columbia on Thursday, punishable by a $25 fine.

“The government is prepared,” said Pedro Ribeiro, chief spokesman for Mayor Vincent Gray, said in an interview. “We’re ready for this to go into effect.”

On language blocking the District from lessening its drug penalties that was included in an appropriations bill that cleared the House Wednesday on a 228-195 vote, Ribeiro said, “We don’t believe that it will be a problem.”

Bringing bud to the Capitol, and on other federal property, however, can still land you behind bars. Full story

June 27, 2014

Body Recovered in Lower Senate Park (Updated)

body005 062714 440x291 Body Recovered in Lower Senate Park (Updated)

Investigators construct a crime scene barrier in Lower Senate Park where an unconscious man was discovered Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 3:58 p.m. | The D.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner removed a body from Lower Senate Park on Friday afternoon, following an investigation by Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department.

Capitol Police received a report of an unconscious man in the park at about 12:15 p.m., according to department spokeswoman Lt. Kimberly Schneider.

Police cordoned off the northern third of the park with crime scene tape and closed Delaware Avenue between Massachusetts Avenue and C Street in Northeast D.C.

ABC7 news reports the victim was a homeless man who may have died as a result of exposure to elements. Temperatures were in the mid-80s.

Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

June 26, 2014

Norton Challenger Thinks a Transformed District Deserves a New Delegate

krepp009 060414 440x292 Norton Challenger Thinks a Transformed District Deserves a New Delegate

Krepp is an independent candidate to be the District’s congressional delegate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

While Washington’s streetscape, city government and demographics have changed dramatically over the past quarter-century, its representation in Congress has stayed constant over roughly the same period of time.

District voters first elected Eleanor Holmes Norton to be their non-voting delegate to the House in 1990, as a crack epidemic and related surge of violence made the city notorious as the nation’s “murder capital.”

During the mid-1990s, she helped the city navigate a series of managerial crises that led Congress to take control of D.C.’s finances and fought against further erosion of home rule. She routinely won re-election with more than 90 percent of the vote throughout the 2000s, as she worked to soften some Capitol Hill attitudes toward the revived and growing city. This April, she began cruising toward a 13th term with 97 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary.

Local tour guide and historian Tim Krepp looks at all the changes the city has undergone during Norton’s 24 years in Congress — from budget deficits to surpluses, from an exodus to the suburbs to some of the nation’s fastest urban population growth — and says it’s time for voters to re-evaluate whom they want advocating for their interests on Capitol Hill. Full story

June 25, 2014

Self-Proclaimed ‘Senate Comedian’ Shows His ‘Caucasian Skills’ (Audio)

Scanning the crowd in the back room of a downtown D.C. sports bar, Senate doorkeeper Scott Muschett, the self-proclaimed “Senate Comedian,” decided the script for his five minutes at the mic was all wrong.

“When I wrote the material tonight, OK, I thought there was going to be a whole bunch of brothas in the house, but it’s all skinny, progressive, urban, young millenials,” Muschett said, pausing before his punchline — an off-color joke about Mel Gibson, delivered a little too quietly to be heard over the excited crowd. He stood at the head of a 12-seat table scattered with beer cans and cocktail glasses and surrounded by Senate sergeant-at-arms employees who came out to Chinatown’s RFD bar to support their longtime co-worker. Full story

June 13, 2014

Wonks Go Into Warrior Pose to Defend D.C. Yoga Tax (Updated)

yoga poses 10 072210 440x230 Wonks Go Into Warrior Pose to Defend D.C. Yoga Tax (Updated)

Is that headstand about to get more expensive? (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:07 p.m. | The wonks at the DC Fiscal Policy Institute want to explain why the so-called gym tax, a 5.75 percent tax on health club services that has outraged some fitness buffs, makes sense for the District.

“Taxing health clubs isn’t anti-fitness,” according to DCFPI policy analyst Wes Rivers. Rather, it’s one piece of a larger package that will broaden the city’s base of sales tax, making it fairer and more reliable as the economy shifts from goods to services, Rivers explained in a Thursday blog post on the topic.

DCFPI points out that promised tax cuts for Washington residents and businesses — about $400 for those with incomes between $50,000 to $75,000 — will more than offset the price of an annual gym membership, and benefit gym and yoga studio owners. Full story

June 10, 2014

Tax Proposal Draws Protest From Capitol Hill Gyms, Yoga Studios

yoga poses 9 072210 440x272 Tax Proposal Draws Protest From Capitol Hill Gyms, Yoga Studios

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Betsy Poos tries to keep politics out of the classroom at Capitol Hill Yoga.

The co-owner of the Pennsylvania Avenue Southeast studio spent a decade working for members of Congress and the Democratic Party before opening, in March 2009, the small business  six blocks from the Capitol. When teaching, her classroom philosophy is: “This is the time to let your day job go.”

But a tax change working its way through the D.C. Council has recently caused Poos to “measure the line” on her credos. The city is looking at implementing a 5.75 percent sales tax on gyms, yoga studios and other health club services as part of its fiscal 2015 budget, part of an effort to revise its tax structure and reduce the overall burden on D.C. residents. Poos and other wellness practitioners are worried the proposal will hurt their industry.

(Get breaking news alerts from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.)

Full story

Sign In

Forgot password?

Or

Subscribe

Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...