D.C. Council faces dozens of bills in sprint to finish

By |
Photo - Mayor gray speaks at the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance in Freedom Plaza hosted by Serve D.C., Washington D.C., Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Mayor gray speaks at the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance in Freedom Plaza hosted by Serve D.C., Washington D.C., Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Local,DC,Alan Blinder

The D.C. Council is poised to sprint to the end of its session Tuesday as members race to finish work on dozens of bills before adjourning for the year and allowing any unapproved measures to fizzle.

Lawmakers are set to give final consideration to bills that aim to relax gun laws, keep libraries open longer, impose a new tax and cut speeding fines.

They approved each bill during a 13-hour series of meetings on Dec. 4, but the bills must survive two votes before going to Mayor Vincent Gray for his signature.

District lawmakers are on the cusp of giving final backing to the creation of a $1 million fund to pay for flood damages throughout the city. Water customers will underwrite the fund with a tax that could top 30 cents a month, and supporters have billed it as a humanitarian measure for the parts of the city that experienced severe flooding earlier this year. The tax would touch nearly every customer in D.C., though about 6,000 low-income customers would be exempt.

The District is also set to loosen certain parts of its gun laws for nonresidents who make "honest mistakes." Under the proposal, prosecutors would be allowed to grant administrative dispositions to nonresidents accused of possessing an unregistered firearm or ammunition. Such dispositions would allow the person to avoid a criminal record.

And while lawmakers and Gray have generally had a positive relationship, the two sides have bickered lately about the council's spending habits.

Gray says the council has passed more than $340 million in spending that it doesn't have the funding to support, including an extension of public library hours by at least 44 percent.

"It gives the residents the impression that something has been done when in fact it can't move forward because there's no money," Gray said recently.

Gray has also sharply criticized a $95 million plan to slash traffic fines, a proposal that came after the city hauled in record revenues from its network of speed and red light cameras.

Tuesday's meeting will be the first for at-large Councilwoman Anita Bonds, who won an election of local Democratic insiders last week to serve as an interim lawmaker until an April 23 special election.

"Over the last three days, I've been doing a little background research looking at some of the committee reports and trying to prepare myself," Bonds said Friday, days after her swearing-in. "Nothing else is on the agenda through Dec. 18."

The meeting will also be the last for at-large Councilman Michael Brown, a self-styled "independent Democrat" who was defeated in November but has hinted he may try to make a comeback in April's election.

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

View article comments Leave a comment
Author:

Alan Blinder

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