D.C. Council passes flurry of legislation

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Local,DC,Alan Blinder

In a single vote, the D.C. Council on Tuesday approved measures that could ultimately expand public library hours, give District voters the opportunity to consider a charter amendment that would give the city budget autonomy, relax gun laws and extend the life of businesses licenses.

At the start of their second marathon session of the day, lawmakers used a parliamentary tactic to clear dozens of measures quickly, a procedure that would shorten the meeting by hours.

Legislators voted for the first time on proposals that included:

-- A plan to open the city's libraries on Sundays and expand hours on other days. Under the proposal from Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans, each library would be open at least 44 percent longer. But Mayor Vincent Gray has balked at the proposal, questioning whether the city can afford the $6 million plan.

-- A proposal to allow District voters to decide whether they want to amend the city charter to give D.C. local budget autonomy. Local leaders have long complained about Congress' authority over the District budget.

In an eight-page letter to lawmakers Tuesday, Gray made clear he had concerns about the possible citywide vote, despite his "deep, abiding support for District budget autonomy."

"The bill's legal and practical risks should be more closely mitigated before we make a misstep that hurts the District and the stability of its budget process," said Gray, who cautioned the amendment could violate federal law and harm the city's relationship with Congress.

-- A change to the District's stringent gun laws to allow prosecutors to offer nonresidents "administrative dispositions" if they are charged with possessing unregistered firearms or ammunition. Supporters of the bill said it was intended to help people who made "honest mistakes" avoid criminal convictions.

-- An update to the laws governing business licenses in the city that will allow those licenses to have a validity period for four years instead of two.

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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Author:

Alan Blinder

Staff Reporter, D.C. City Hall
The Washington Examiner