Councilmember Charles Allen Introduces Bill to Create District Waterways Management Office
Also introduces bills addressing DC’s high maternal mortality rate and removing barriers to professional licensing for returning citizens
Today, Councilmember Charles Allen will introduce the District Waterways Management Act of 2017 to help take steps to manage the growth and increased traffic on DC’s waterways.
“With the opening of The Wharf last week, we’re already seeing more boats, kayakers, and water taxis on the water. That growth is only going to continue as DC remembers it is a city on the water – we need to manage it in a way that prioritizes safety and access for all,” said Councilmember Allen. “I want to give the city the proper tools to plan, coordinate, manage, promote, and advocate for diverse uses of that water for all DC residents and our guests.”
The bill would establish a District Waterways Management Office within the Office of the City Administrator. That office would be tasked with coordinating the city’s overall response to safety, environmental, recreational needs, and more.
Additionally, the bill creates a District Waterways Management Commission with 11 voting members and a number of ex-officio members representing a wide swath of local and federal stakeholders around the health of DC’s waterways. This Commission would have a first task of creating a District Waterways Management Action Plan to maintain safe and orderly use of waterways by boats and watercraft, guidance on use of private and public land next to the water, focus on environmental preservation, strategies for economic growth, and identification of transportation gaps.
Councilmember Allen will also introduce the Maternal Mortality Review Committee Establishment Act of 2017, a bill aimed at understanding and lowering DC’s high maternal mortality rate. The Committee would be under the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to understand the circumstances surrounding particular deaths and provide recommendations to improve maternal mortality.
“The US averages 19.9 deaths per 100,000 women within 42 days of child birth. In the District of Columbia, that number is an astoundingly high 40 deaths and we need to be evaluating what is causing those deaths to identify trends we should be addressing,” said Councilmember Allen.
Finally, Councilmember Allen will introduce the Removing Barriers to Occupational Licensing Amendment Act of 2017. In the District, professional licenses are required for more than 70 occupations – many of which are otherwise viable career paths for returning citizens. This bill expands access to occupational licenses for individuals with a criminal history by standardizing how licensing boards may use a criminal record to deny, suspend, or revoke an application, license, certificate, or registration. The bill requires that licensing boards only consider criminal convictions or pending charges that are “directly related” to the occupation, as well as providing a way for an applicant who has been denied to provide mitigating evidence that their criminal history is not relevant to their application.
“Across the nation, 1/3 of black men have a felony conviction – that is way too high. We are creating huge issues when an unrelated criminal history blocks someone from a being a barber, athletic trainer, electrician or HVAC technician, asbestos engineer or many other crucial jobs our community needs filled. This is an economic issue and a public safety issue – a huge part of recidivism is directly related to the many barriers to employment and self-sustainability,” said Councilmember Allen.
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The DC Council has declared 2018 the Year of the Anacostia! Join Councilmember Allen throughout the year as we celebrate the centennial anniversary of Anacostia Park, mark the 200th birthday of Frederick Douglas – the “Lion of the Anacostia”, and welcome the nation’s focus during the 2019 MLB All-Star Game by celebrating our waterways and protecting them for future generations through awareness, recreation, and legislation.