Ceremonial Resolutions, Debate on Expanded SYEP Occupy Much of Sixth Legislative Meeting

The Sixth Legislative Meeting of Council Period 21 began with a three-prong burst of DC pride. Secret Service presence in the Council Chamber is an uncommon spectacle, but given that the recipient of the first ceremonial resolution offered by the Council was former US Attorney General Eric Holder, it was not unexpected. The resolution honored Holder’s extensive service to the nation, but lingered longest on his persistent identification as a citizen of the District, and advocate for DC voting rights.  Filling out a star-studded Council Chamber were Nationals manager Matt Williams and former Mayor Tony Williams, both honored by a ceremonial resolution praising the Nationals.  Former Mayor Williams was also recognized along with former Councilmember Frank Smith and others in a third ceremonial resolution as a founder of DC’s only state holiday, Emancipation Day. Additional ceremonial resolutions recognized the AARP and the 40th anniversary of the Fort Lincoln community.

Among new legislation introduced from the dais, that which attracted the most attention, given recent news from Baltimore, was a police reform measure. The bill would narrow the definition of assault on a police officer, modify witness line-ups, and provide additional information to the Office of Police Complaints. Also notable was a package of three election and lobbying reform bills offered with broad co-sponsorships.

Passed without controversy at the meeting were the prohibition of pre-employment marijuana testing, the Healthy Hearts of Babies Act, two medical marijuana measures, and an extension of the Unity Health Care prison health care contract that Corizon had recently sought to take over.

By far, the most extensive debate at the meeting was reserved for a measure designed to lay out the specifics of an extension of the Mayor Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) at the request of Mayor Muriel Bowser. Earlier this year, $5.2 million had been reprogrammed to fund an expansion of the program to individuals aged 22 to 24, but the specifics of that expansion were what was debated at the meeting.  Key amendments to the measure added an evaluation and reporting requirement, and a firm limit tying the number of allowed participants to the amount of funding made available. As is often the case in the Council, after some heated debate, and roll call votes on amendments, the underlying measure itself passed by unanimous voice vote.

For a complete listing of every measure considered, and vote taken, at the meeting, click here.

From left to right:
Former US Attorney General Eric Holder,
Washington Nationals Manager Matt Williams,
Former DC Mayor Anthony Williams