Council Period 21 is still young, barely a month old, and the light agenda at the recent Second Legislative Meeting reflects this. With few exceptions, legislation that was not approved by the Council prior to the end of a two-year Council Period did not survive the transition to the new Council Period. Because of this, the introduction of new legislation is the lifeblood of the early months of a new Council Period. Newly introduced legislation is the “raw material” of the legislative process, and necessary to “prime the pump” for future legislative action.
In the coming weeks, the Council’s schedule will grow busier in two ways. First, hearings will be scheduled on bills introduced at the first two Legislative Meetings. Among the bills introduced at the most recent meeting were those which, if passed, would:
- Further expand foreign language access to government services
- Require earlier notice of rent increases to tenants
- Provide free two-year tuition to the University of the District of Columbia (UDC)
- Replace tuition at UDC with a future percentage-of-income payment system
- Rename UDC in memory of the late Mayor Marion Barry
- Eliminate the statute of limitation for severe sex crimes
- Eliminate “covenants” that ban a new grocery store from replacing a grocery store that is closing
- Create farmers’ market pop-ups in public schools in Wards 7 and 8
- Rewrite the District’s arson laws to eliminate the required link to malicious intent and to create three classes of arson based on severity
For a full listing of all votes taken at the recent legislative meeting, click here.
Budget season beginning this week
The second way in which the Council’s calendar will become busier in the coming weeks will be the rollout of the agency-by-agency performance oversight and budget hearings that will dominate the Council’s spring workload.
In a hearing today, the District’s Chief Financial Officer will brief the Council on the newly-released Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the Fiscal Year that ended on September 30, and the resulting $204 million surplus.
In regards to the coming fiscal year, Mayor Bowser has asked all agencies to prepare draft budgets based initially on the budget marks suggested by Mayor Gray, but with options for 5%, 6%, and 8% cuts from those earlier levels. As the Council proceeds with its busy schedule of performance oversight and budget hearings, its strategy for closing the projected FY 2016 budget gap will come into focus.