Sep 19, 2022 - News

What the D.C. Council is focusing on this fall

Photo: Craig Hudson/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Assisting migrants arriving in D.C., making streets safer, and expanding paid leave are all on the agenda when the D.C. Council returns to the Wilson Building. Their first legislative meeting after the summer break is scheduled for tomorrow.

Why it matters: This is the last stretch of the council’s two-year legislative session and any bills still on the table would need to be reintroduced in the next cycle for consideration. By then, several new council members will be seated.

Here’s what’s happening this fall:

Migrant office being considered

On Tuesday, Council members will vote on emergency legislation to establish an Office of Migrant Services to address the busloads of migrants arriving in D.C. from states such as Arizona and Texas.

  • The $10 million investment would support nonprofits and groups straining to welcome and help the migrants arriving at Union Station, where city officials hope to soon have a 24/7 presence.

Yes, but: Some homeless advocates worry that the bill would remove privacy protections for families and exclude migrants from services afforded to people experiencing homelessness.

Safer streets

The council will take its first vote on a bill that would prohibit vehicles from making right turns on red and allow bikers to proceed through stop signs. The legislation is spearheaded by retiring Ward 3 council member Mary Cheh.

  • The bill comes after drivers hit and killed at least four pedestrians and cyclists this summer.
Paid leave and worker protections

The council will also vote Tuesday on a bill to increase District employee parental and caregiving leave from eight weeks to 12 weeks, as well as establish 12-week personal medical leave.

  • At-large council member Elissa Silverman is also pushing a bill to extend protections for domestic workers in D.C., requiring employers to offer contracts to employees working more than five hours a month. The bill would also carve out protections for domestic workers in the D.C. Human Rights Act.
Other bills to watch

According to the office of council chair Phil Mendelson, he is “laser-focused” on education.

  • On Friday, he held a public hearing focused on changing how funding is allocated to public schools.
  • Meanwhile, at-large council member Christina Henderson introduced a bill to streamline the D.C. Public Schools hiring process.

Additionally, Cheh — who chairs the transportation committee — is looking to advance a bill that would offer $100/month for residents to use Metro, per DCist.

Another bill, by Ward 6 council member Charles Allen, would streamline voter registration, setting up a database of “pre-approved” voters per Bolts.


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