During even-numbered years, the fall is an especially busy season for the Council, since the impending new year brings with it the end of a two-year Council Period and an obligatory reset on any legislation not fully passed into law by that deadline.
But in odd-numbered years like this one, while the omnipresent urgency of addressing public policy priorities remains, and the legislative process continues, the artificial calendar deadline and cliffhanger conclusion of a waning Council Period is absent.
The Council’s most recent Legislative Meeting bore witness to this. Evident in the agenda was the fact that despite the lack of a year-end frenzy, the ongoing legislative calendar marches on, with a particular focus on targeted, practical measures.
Bills passed at the most recent meeting, if fully enacted and signed, would:
- extend contract funding temporarily to one DC Public Schools food service provider, to ensure continued provision of healthy food to students, while allowing DCPS time to untangle itself from its past unapproved contract scandal
- create rebates for the purchase and maintenance of electric bikes (and vouchers for those with limited income who are unable to advance funds and await refunds)
- create a free Master in Social Work program at the University of the District of Columbia, to address a shortage of homegrown social workers and behavioral health specialists
- allow 24 hour a day operation, and 22 hour a day alcohol sales, by registered licensed establishments from the bill’s enactment through October 1, during the World Culture Festival, Art All Night, and Dine All Night events
- help assure fairness in renting by reducing unfairly elevated or unnecessary fees charged by landlords to tenants
- continue requiring landlords to honor ongoing COVID-era rent payment plans with eligible tenants
- allow grants to the National Park Service to facilitate planning, creating, and maintaining trails in the Buzzard Point neighborhood
- ceremonially rename a number of streets to honor prominent Black Washingtonians, such as original Ward 5 Councilmember William Spaulding, abolitionist minister Alexander Crummell, and poet Sterling Brown
- eliminate the currently paused requirement that all DC students be vaccinated against COVID
Also at the most recent meeting, the Council legislatively bid adieu to two of our most stalwart DC government beat reporters. Ceremonial resolutions honoring WAMU’s Martin Austermuhle (who moved to Switzerland earlier this month) and WJLA’s Sam Ford (who will retire at the end of 2023) were unanimously passed, thanking and congratulating both journalists for their long public service.
The Council’s next Legislative Meeting will be held on October 3.