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December 20, 2014

Posts in "DC Council"

December 1, 2014

D.C. Concealed Carry Fight Could Provoke Congress, Contempt of Court

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Paul has fired multiple shots at D.C.’s gun laws. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

On Tuesday, the D.C. Council will consider a more permanent version of the emergency measure that revived the city’s long-standing concealed carry law. That bill turned D.C. into a “may-issue jurisdiction,” where authorities have discretion over who may carry and where they are allowed.

At the same time, a pro-gun lawyer is on a mission to achieve what Second Amendment proponents in Congress have tried to do since the landmark District of Columbia v. Heller ruling: Wipe out the city’s restrictions on carrying handguns.

Attorney Alan Gura argues the city’s plan for issuing concealed carry permits does not meet the requirements set forth by Judge Frederick Scullin in the July 26 ruling that declared the D.C.’s ban on carrying handguns unconstitutional. Gura has asked the court to hold the city in contempt. Full story

November 26, 2014

Marion Barry to Be Memorialized With Citywide Procession, Public Viewing

cq970313 11470b 440x292 Marion Barry to Be Memorialized With Citywide Procession, Public Viewing

(Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The District of Columbia plans to bid farewell to its “mayor for life” over the course of three days, with a procession through all eight wards of the city and a massive celebration at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Tens of thousands are expected to attend the Dec. 6 viewing and memorial service for Marion Barry, the former four-term mayor and Ward 8 councilmember who died Sunday at age 78. President Barack Obama’s name may even appear on the guest list, organizers suggested Wednesday.

Mayor Vincent Gray declared Barry the most iconic figure in the history of the District of Columbia, then quipped, “and remember, that includes the federal government also.” He recalled Barry’s pride in 2008, when he saw Obama receive the Democratic nomination in Denver. ”He saw everything that he had stood for, and everything he had tried to do embodied in this African-American man being nominated to be the president of the United States,” Gray said.

Barry will lie in repose in the John A. Wilson Building for 24 hours, beginning at 9 a.m. on Dec. 4. The last person bestowed with that honor was Barry’s ex-wife, Effi Barry, in 2007. A brief service will honor his contributions as an important civic leader in the decades after Home Rule, who served 16 years as mayor and 16 years on the D.C. Council.

“His passing is hard on the institution,” D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said Wednesday.  District employees will be allowed up to two hours of administrative leave on Thursday to visit the closed casket.

Barry’s body will be transported through the city on Dec. 5, along a route yet to be determined, to one of the churches he regularly attended. The Temple of Praise on Southern Avenue Southeast will host a musical and video tribute from 3 to 6 p.m., followed by a community memorial service from 6 to 9 p.m.

The convention center viewing begins at 8 a.m. on Dec. 6, with a memorial service to follow at 11 a.m. A private burial will follow.

Related:

Marion Barry, 4-Term Mayor and D.C. Councilmember, Dies at 78

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By Hannah Hess Posted at 2:27 p.m.
DC Council, DC Mayor

November 23, 2014

Marion Barry, 4-Term Mayor and D.C. Councilmember, Dies at 78

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A “Thank You” card to Marion Barry sits on the steps of the John A. Wilson Building, DC’s City Hall, on Nov. 23. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Former D.C. Mayor and Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry died Sunday at the age of 78.

Barry’s family did not indicate the cause of his death in a statement released Sunday morning, but said Barry passed away at United Medical Center early Sunday after having previously been hospitalized at Howard University Hospital on Saturday.

“Marion was not just a colleague but also was a friend with whom I shared many fond moments about governing the city,” Mayor Vincent C. Gray said in a statement. “He loved the District of Columbia and so many Washingtonians loved him.” Full story

November 7, 2014

Not Everyone Loves the New Columbia Statehood Commission

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D.C. Shadow Sen. Michael D. Brown, right, fears his office is being “nickeled and dimed.” (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

Shadow Sen. Michael D. Brown fears legislation packaged as an effort to streamline the statehood movement will effectively turn the District of Columbia’s two shadow senators and shadow representative into “employees” of the D.C. government, instead of elected officials.

For the past eight years, Brown has effectively served as a pro bono statehood lobbyist with no voting power in Congress. In that time, he believes the debate has shifted from whether the District becomes the 51st state to when. Brown is proud of the progress a New Columbia statehood bill with a record number of sponsors has made in Congress, and warns “interfering with the movement is not going to help it.”

Leaders in the executive and legislative branches of the District government say they are trying to bring coherence and new resources to the unpaid statehood delegation. The trio currently works out of a small office in the basement of the John A. Wilson building, with no salary, and no formal coordination with Mayor Vincent Gray or the 13 members of the D.C. Council. Full story

November 5, 2014

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

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Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., with Norton. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Republican wave didn’t crash in the District of Columbia, but that doesn’t mean the victors won’t have to contend with the GOP Congress.

As local Democrat Muriel Bowser celebrated a double-digit victory in the mayoral contest over independent challenger David Catania, she also took time to speak with Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., about the makeup of the House and Senate.

Bowser has promised statehood and legislative autonomy would both be priorities when working with Capitol Hill, and told CQ Roll Call she supported the D.C. Council’s attempt to force Mayor Vincent Gray and Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey S. DeWitt to comply with the local Budget Autonomy Act via the court system.

“Well I supported the council’s action in that,” Bowser said Tuesday. “I would expect that to be my policy as well.”

That might put her at odds with the newly elected top lawyer in the District, though. Voters chose veteran attorney Karl A. Racine to serve as the city’s first elected attorney general, who said the lawsuit is “not a winning case” during an Oct. 23 debate. The former associate White House counsel under President Bill Clinton defeated Paul Zukerberg, the attorney who appealed to the courts to get the race on the ballot, and three other candidates who also ran as Democrats. Full story

October 30, 2014

D.C. Council Talks Marijuana Legalization, ‘Rookie Cookies’

 

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Harris has already vowed to fight legalization. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Votes on pot legalization have yet to be tallied, but the D.C. Council is already talking about “Rookie Cookies.”

Five days before Washingtonians head to the polls, the council’s Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and Committee on Finance and Revenue held a joint public hearing to explore how the District of Columbia would tax and regulate its marijuana industry. Officials have indicated they intend to send the ballot initiative to legalize marijuana to Congress without delay for its mandatory 60-day review period, and they fully expect it to take effect next April.

“Rookie Cookies,” and other marijuana edibles are one of the products they will need to learn to regulate, according to Cathy Jolley, who came from Nashville to talk about her experience working with state and national players on behalf of Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting and Compliance. She said a strong regulatory model has been “key” to keeping the federal government out of Colorado’s marijuana market. Full story

October 28, 2014

D.C. Council Clears Road for Uber

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Traditional taxis have railed against the measure for months, including a rolling protest around Capitol Hill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Taxi drivers lost a fight against for-hire ride services Tuesday, when the D.C. Council passed a bill that Uber says “provides a permanent home for UberX in the District.”

The company, which in August hired President Barack Obama’s former political strategist David Plouffe to run its political and public relations operations, praised D.C. for passing the legislation. It mandates county, federal and multi-state background checks on drivers going back seven years, $1 million primary insurance coverage from the moment a driver accepts a request and annual vehicle safety inspections by a certified mechanic. Uber said in a blog post that the bill makes D.C. a “trailblazer in the transportation industry.”

Hundreds of local taxi drivers, organized by Teamsters Local 922, planned a rolling protest around Freedom Plaza to show their opposition to the measure. They say it fails to create a level playing field with the private sedan services, who are costing the cab drivers business. A similar honking armada surrounded Capitol Hill in June.

The bill underwent some big changes as it worked its way through the council, including a name change. Lawmakers said calling the services “ridesharing” conflates them with carpooling, and other modes of transportation meant to defray costs associated with vehicle ownership or commuting. Instead of that term of art, the District opted for “private vehicle-for-hire” services.

Under the legislation, Uber, Lyft and other companies would have to comply with fare transparency provisions, like traditional taxis. The company must disclose its calculation method and applicable rates being charged, as well as offering to estimate fare. Additionally, the bill protects passengers’ pocketbooks in situations like Snowmageddon. When the mayor declares a state of emergency, the drivers are prohibited from setting exorbitant fares.

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DC Council Looks to Streamline Statehood Efforts

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Mendelson and Gray both support new statehood efforts. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

In the four decades since Home Rule, elected officials in the District of Columbia have created four different commissions aimed at making the city the 51st state. Looking at the current condition of those panels, it might be obvious why the flag only has 50 stars.

Each one has no members, according to D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson. None one of the four have been functioning for years, “if ever,” he said Monday at a briefing previewing the council’s Tuesday legislative agenda.

Included on that agenda is a complicated piece of legislation designed to streamline more than 200 mayor-appointed boards and commissions in D.C. would consolidate and bolster the statehood effort. Introduced in January 2013 as the “Boards and Commissions Reform Act,” the council recently revamped the bill by adding “New Columbia Statehood Initiative” to the title and injecting more than a quarter-of-a-million dollars into the fight.

The bill, expected to get a final vote Tuesday, would eliminate 31 panels deemed inactive or unnecessary, including the Statehood Commission, the Statehood Compact Commission, District of Columbia Statehood Delegation Fund Commission, and the 51st State Commission. It would establish two new independent agencies: the Office of Statehood Delegation, and the New Columbia Statehood Commission. Full story

October 24, 2014

Ebola Roundtable Sparks Divisions Over District’s Preparedness

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A protester outside of the White House encourages a travel ban from Ebola-affected countries. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Though national attention turned to a congressional hearing on Ebola preparedness Friday, two members of D.C. Council Committee on Health also met to assess how the District is preparing for the virus, resulting in clashes between lawmakers, hospital officials and nurses.

“We are nowhere near prepared for an Ebola patient at our hospital,” said Jowita Lyn, an emergency room nurse at Providence Hospital in Northeast D.C.

Referring to breaches in protocol that led to two nurses contracting Ebola while treating an infected patient in Dallas, Texas, Lyn said, “What happened at Texas Health Presbyterian could easily happen at Providence Hospital.”

Lyn treated one of the suspected Ebola patients in D.C. at Providence. She said she knew to ask whether the patient had traveled to an affected country because of her own research on the subject.

The nurse said the only training she received was a printout of Centers for Disease Control guidelines. Lyn also said the protective gear at the hospital were “paper thin gowns that are barely thicker than a napkin.” Full story

October 23, 2014

D.C. Board of Elections: ‘Well, We Messed Up.’

upsidedownflag 309x330 D.C. Board of Elections: Well, We Messed Up.

One week later, the board of elections is apologizing. (via @ericfidler)

One week after a lighthearted dismissal of the error, the District of Columbia’s election board issued a formal apology to voters for printing an upside down image of the D.C. flag on its official voter guide.

“Well, we messed up. BIG time,” the three-person board said Thursday in a statement that also expressed regret for “fumbling” its handling of the issue on Oct. 16.

The apology comes after a Tuesday news conference in which Mayor Vincent Gray said the flub has “tested severely” his faith in the independent agency responsible for the administration of elections, ballot access and voter registration. ”I don’t have … a lot of evidence that I can point to at this stage that would lead me to have a lot of confidence in what’s going to happen between now and, of course, Nov. 4,” Gray said. Full story

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