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April 19, 2015

Posts in "DC Council"

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 31, 2015

Bowser Bans Travel to Indiana Over Religious Freedom Law

Mayor Muriel Bowser

Bowser banned official travel to Indiana Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser signed an executive order Tuesday prohibiting D.C. officials and employees from approving official travel to Indiana in response to the state’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The RFRA bars laws that would inhibit a person, religious institution or business from following one’s religious beliefs. But critics say the law opens the door for discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Full story

March 26, 2015

Mendelson to Lankford: D.C. Bills Don’t Violate Religious Freedom

Mendelson, left, sent a letter to Lankford arguing the bills do not violate religious freedom. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Mendelson, left, sent a letter to Lankford arguing the bills do not violate religious freedom. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and James Lankford of Oklahoma introduced resolutions of disapproval to block two District of Columbia bills from becoming law, the D.C. Council chairman took his argument in support of the bills directly to Lankford.

“There is no intent on our part to violate the rights of others, such as freedom of religion,” Council Chairman Phil Mendelson wrote in a two-page letter sent to Lankford on March 20. 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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D.C. Responds to Marijuana Investigation

Mayor Muriel Bowser

Bowser’s office sent a legal brief to Congress last week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The District of Columbia government is in the process of responding to a congressional investigation into the enactment and implementation of the voter-passed marijuana legalization initiative.

According to a spokesperson for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the committee staff received a response from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on March 11 outlining the District’s position on the initiative. The committee also received a number of documents, but noted it is only a fraction of the documents it expects to obtain from the D.C. government.

Full story

February 25, 2015

D.C. Stands Up to Congress on Marijuana Legalization (Updated)

Updated 5:41 p.m. | As of 12:01 a.m. Thursday, the District of Columbia will legalize marijuana, despite warnings from two congressional Republicans that doing so would break the law and could lead to possible prison time for D.C. officials.

“Our government is prepared to implement and enforce Initiative 71 in the District of Columbia,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said at a briefing Wednesday, where D.C. officials presented a united front against congressional opposition. Bowser was joined by District Attorney General Karl Racine, Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier and eight members of the D.C. Council, including Chairman Phil Mendelson. 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 9, 2015

Hearing or Discussion? D.C. Council Event Underscores Marijuana Dispute With Congress

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Though some legal confusion surrounds the fate of the District of Columbia’s marijuana legalization initiative, the D.C. Council defied Congress Monday by discussing a system to regulate the tax and sale of marijuana.

As if to underscore the legal issues surrounding the matter, the D.C. Council held a roundtable discussion  not a formal hearing  on the “Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2015,” which would set up a structure to regulate selling and taxing marijuana. The legislation has essentially zero chance of becoming law soon, because Congress passed an appropriations rider as part of its year-end spending package barring D.C. from using federal and local funds to enact any legislation to reduce penalties for marijuana possession, use or distribution. Full story

January 30, 2015

5 Potential Scenarios for D.C.’s Marijuana Initiative

What's next for marijuana in D.C.? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

What’s next for marijuana in D.C.? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The ongoing battle over the District of Columbia’s marijuana policy is currently at a standstill, but several scenarios over the coming weeks could alter its fate.

In November, 70 percent of D.C. voters approved Initiative 71, legalizing the possession and cultivation of small amounts of marijuana. But Congress moved to block the initiative by attaching a rider to the year-end spending package 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.” Full story

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