2018 is off to a fast start. There's a lot happening this year in Ward 6 -- from the start of RFK's redevelopment to ongoing efforts to make our infrastructure more pedestrian- and bicyclist-friendly to several schools and libraries planning their modernizations. All of that is to say, thanks for reading these newsletters and staying engaged -- my team can't do our jobs without hearing from you. I'll be resuming my weekly office hours in the community on Friday, February 2, in Shaw at Compass Coffee. My office hour events are another way to let me know what's on your mind. And of course, please don't hesitate to contact my staff or me if you have questions or concerns.
Three years ago, Councilmember Charles Allen introduced the bill to create DC's Books From Birth program in partnership with DC Public Library. Today, more than 32,000 District children have participated in the program, with nearly 65% of those children and families coming from neighborhoods with lower literacy rates.
Check out this article from Literary Hub on DC's Books From Birth program as well as a short history of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, who had the great idea that all kids and parents should have access to age-appropriate books starting at birth. I appreciate that the author took the time to discuss the benefits of low-literacy parents reading to their children and how it can improve their own ability to read.
Two bills by Councilmember Allen ready for Council vote: creating Maternal Mortality Review Committee and protecting injured MPD officers’ jobs
Today, the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety voted to send three pieces of legislation to the full Council.
Welcome to 2018! It was a cold start to the year - historically cold - but the turning of the calendar is especially exciting this year as we're officially in the Year of the Anacostia! All year, we are going to mark important milestones around our river to highlight the need for greater care, to ensure there is access for all, and celebrate its central role in the health of our community. Quick programming note on holiday tree collection, which begins tomorrow:
Today, the DC Council unanimously passed in a first vote the Fair Elections Act, creating a program where candidates for public office can opt into a publicly-funded model that puts greater focus on small-dollar contributions from DC residents and strengthens their voice in DC elections. The bill was co-introduced by Councilmember Charles Allen and shepherded through the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, where it passed unanimously 5-0.
After, DC will wait and see if Congress tries to undermine local law
Today the DC Council passed Councilmember Charles Allen’s (Ward 6) bill enshrining all of the women’s health benefits provided under the Affordable Care Act into local law, protecting DC women from being charged extra for basic health services if the ACA is ever repealed.
As the DC Council gets set to vote on Councilmember Allen's Fair Elections Act, he penned an opinion piece in this month's issue of the Hill Rag, laying out his work to restore DC residents' trust in their local government and in the election process. The Fair Elections Act is just the latest law Councilmember Allen's leadership has helped pass at the Council working to earn back that trust by making it easier to vote, making it easier to run for public office, removing big money from our elections, and stepping up our campaign finance laws.
Read the piece here or pick up a copy around Ward 6: http://bit.ly/2m5V7qi
Councilmember Allen celebrates Board of Elections implementing his law modernizing ballot and petition signature gathering
Program one of several laws Allen has written to modernize and open DC’s elections process
Councilmember Charles Allen (Ward 6) celebrated today’s announcement from the DC Board of Elections launching its eSign mobile petition application. The program was created thanks Councilmember Allen’s Ballot Modernization Amendment Act of 2015. It was passed into law and funded during the FY2018 budget process.
December is always a busy month with so many great events, from tree lightings to winter celebrations to holiday markets to our very own annual Ward 6 Brickie Awards. All of them are opportunities to get together as neighbors and enjoy the people and places that make our community special. Let's jump in because there's A LOT of really great news to share.
The “Fair Elections Amendment Act of 2017
What is the Fair Elections Program, and Why is it Important?
The bill establishes a voluntary public financing program for political campaigns for District of Columbia elections. It provides public dollars to candidates who pledge to forgo campaign contributions from corporations, special interests, and traditional political action committees, and instead solicit small-dollar contributions from District residents.
- Wealthy and corporate contributors have an outsized influence in the District’s elections through their ability to contribute large amounts of money to campaigns. However, wealthy and corporate contributors do not represent the District’s diversity — and they also often have different policy agendas than the average voter. Just the perception of such influence can discourage political engagement.
- The Fair Elections Program levels the playing field and amplifies the voices of District residents by increasing the influence of “small-dollar contributors” through public matching funds. Candidates can focus their time on connecting and engaging with their constituents, instead of “dialing for dollars” and attending expensive fundraisers. In order to be successful under the Fair Elections Program, candidates will need to spend more time at community meetings, in living rooms, and knocking on doors – the small-dollar contributor becomes the focus.
- The program also opens the door for non-traditional candidates, such as non-incumbents and diverse and grassroots candidates who do not have personal wealth or access to a network of wealthy contributors.
- But why should we spend taxpayer dollars on elections? The program is an investment in our democracy and in the fiscal accountability of our elected officials to taxpayers rather than to wealthy contributors and corporate interests. Taxpayers already spend millions of dollars each year on the District’s elections, including on election equipment, ballot printing, and poll workers. There are also tight controls in the bill to guard against unchecked public matching and candidates who aren’t viable, such as the threshold requirement for the number and total value of contributions to qualify and the matching funds cap.