Shutdown Workarounds, Sports Wagering Advance; Rink Decision Is on Ice

At the Council’s most recent Legislative Meeting, two measures designed to work around potential future federal government shutdowns advanced through the legislative process, as did the latest piece of sports wagering legislation.

The Council was grateful to see the 35-day federal government shutdown come to an end on January 25, but the relief brought about by the government’s reopening was tempered by the fact that, absent a longer-term solution, the shutdown could begin anew on February 15.

As a result, the Council pressed ahead at the most recent Legislative Meeting with two solutions discussed during a January 25 Council roundtable on the shutdown. First, the Council passed a measure on an emergency basis clarifying current unemployment insurance law to make clear that during a shutdown, even those employees deemed essential, who are required to work despite not getting paid, are eligible to collect unemployment during government shutdowns.

Second, the Council built on legislative action begun at its prior Legislative Meeting, taking the next step in the legislative process towards banning furloughed federal employees from being evicted or foreclosed on during a government shutdown. The most recent action expanded the measure to include members of the public defender service, who were inadvertently excluded from the prior drafts of the legislation. The goal is to have these measures in place both for what may come on February 15 as well as for any future shutdowns that are hopefully many years in the future.

Also passed at the most recent meeting was a measure to sole-source procurement for sports wagering. The measure legalizing sports wagering itself was introduced last September, had a hearing in October, and was approved by the Council on December 4 and December 18. Regarding the implementation of sports wagering, an initial effort to legislatively bypass traditional procurement practices at the Council’s first meeting of the calendar year was postponed to allow for a public hearing on the topic. With that hearing having been held earlier in the week, the Council was able to proceed with the sole-sourcing bill, which passed its first of two necessary legislative hurdles by a 7 to 6 vote.

Leading up to the most recent meeting, much public and social media discussion revolved around whether funds dedicated to the renovation and expansion of the Fort Dupont ice rink would be diverted instead to fund school repairs. As a result of negotiations between the Council and the Administration, discussions regarding binding commitments to carry forward funding for the rink into next year will be ongoing, and the topic will be revisited at an Additional Legislative Meeting scheduled for February 19.

At the most recent meeting, Ceremonial Resolutions were presented recognizing:

  • Religious Freedom Day in the District of Columbia
  • The book “The Day Tajon Got Shot,” and its ten youth authors who addressed gun violence via a writing workshop at Beacon House
  • DeMarcco Hellams for his academic and athletic excellence, football prowess, and leadership potential

Measures introduced at the most recent meeting, if enacted, would:

  • Express the Sense of the Council in support of the Cherry Blossom Festival
  • Impose five limitations on the purchasing of consumer debt
  • Facilitate the filing and pursuit of consumer insurance claims
  • Create a Center for Firearm Violence Prevention and Research
  • Strengthen qualifications for members of the DC Housing Authority Board of Commissioners
  • Prohibit retailers from going cashless
  • Provide greater transparency within the Housing Production Trust Fund
  • Create a Student Loan Authority to provide new student loans and refinance existing loans
  • Place the DC Housing Authority, currently an independent government agency, back under full government control
  • Provide voter registration materials to all new renters and homeowners at lease signing/mortgage closing time
  • Provide for a “second look” at the incarceration of all those incarcerated prior to age 25 who have served at least fifteen years, to determine if their rehabilitation merits further review of their sentencing
  • Provide wounded veterans with a special parking permit
  • Exclude veteran retirement income from local income tax
  • Establish a DC Office of Resilience
  • Establish an incentive to open restaurants in Wards 7 and 8
  • Expand jurisdiction for mold regulation and remediation to DCRA (currently only in DOEE)
  • Provide unemployment insurance coverage to federal government employees who are deemed essential during government shutdowns and who are required to work without pay

For a full list of all votes taken at this meeting, please click here.

An Additional Legislative Meeting will be held on February 19. The next regularly scheduled Legislative Meeting will be held on March 5.