As we near the end of 2016, I hope you've had a wonderful holiday season with friends and family! It feels like 2016 flew by faster than I'd like with a growing family, great work at the Council, and so many exciting projects underway in our community. As I gear up to start a new year with more responsibility at the Council -- and a new opportunity to help shape our shared priorities for our neighborhoods -- I'm eager for the chance to work with you to build on what we've accomplished these last two years. I hope you have a wonderful and safe New Year's holiday, and look forward to connecting again in 2017!
Last week, I was named the new Chair of the Council’s Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary beginning in 2017 with the start of the new Council Period. There is serious and hard work ahead, and I am thrilled to take the helm of this important committee. I have worked closely with the Committee on a range of issues over the last two years, and look forward to serving as Chair. There is a lot of work to do to ensure everyone in the District has a safe neighborhood and that we are a fair and just city. I care deeply about public safety and good government issues and am honored to serve the Council in this new role.
The Committee will oversee the Metropolitan Police Department, the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department, Office of the Attorney General, Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, the Office of Unified Communications, the Board of Elections, the Office of Campaign Finance, and the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability, among other agencies and boards. In addition to Public Safety, I will also serve on the Committees on Education, Business & Economic Development, and Transportation & the Environment. I'll also continue to serve a leadership role on the region's Transportation Planning Board as Vice Chair for the 2017 term.
With this new committee responsibility, I'll also be adding new staff to our great Ward 6 team. Stay tuned for those announcements and some job postings.
Council Period 21 Wrap-Up
As both the year and my first Council Period draw to a close, it's a good time to reflect on what we've accomplished so far. I'm incredibly proud that as a freshman on the Council, I was able to successfully move so many legislative initiatives. Here are some of the highlights:
Improving education is a priority for me. My first bill, Books From Birth, was supported unanimously by the Council and included, fully funded, in the latest budget. This law ensures that all our children will be exposed to language and learning from their very first months until they turn 5 years old. To date, nearly 20,000 District children are enrolled and close to 100,000 books have been mailed to households in every corner of our city. I also co-introduced numerous measures aimed at improving the lives of our students, including the Public School Nurse Assignment Amendment Act, the Pre-K Student Discipline Act, and the Youth Suicide Prevention and School Climate Act. I also focused a great deal of time and energy on school modernization and the response to lead in water in our schools.
Education is a clear area for supporting our families, but it’s not the only avenue to provide that support. I took the lead on changing our law on surrogacy, taking the District from one of the most hostile places for collaborative reproduction to one that respects additional ways to build families. On the other end of the spectrum, my Safe at Home legislation ensures that those with limited resources who wish to age in place can do so with some help from the government to keep their homes livable and safe. I also worked with colleagues to clarify the law on domestic partnerships, and co-introduced legislation providing better access to contraceptives, and another that improved the home purchase assistance program. I have been a proud supporter of the minimum wage increase and universal paid leave, both of which help our working families stay afloat.
The last two bills are part of several measures that reflect efforts to support small business. The minimum wage bill will help small business retain workers and see the benefit of their training and experience stay with the employer. The same is true of the universal paid leave bill. I also championed Made in DC, which will brand and promote our home-grown products.
Public safety remains a key focus. This council period, I led the effort to create a rebate for home owners and businesses for exterior security cameras, a program that has been utilized heavily not only in Ward 6, but across the District. I also helped work on efforts to ensure we can recruit and retain more police officers on the force, as well as clarified the law to ensure that tampering with a GPS device is a crime. I also worked with colleagues to author measures related to new Rail Safety provisions, Substance Abuse and Opioid Overdose Prevention programs, and an ATV bill aimed at curbing the dangerous dirt bike riding on our streets. I made changes to the law to allow the Mayor to contract with BIDs, Main Streets, and Clean Teams to keep our sidewalks clear of snow and ice – allowing our neighbors to get safely to school, work, and our neighborhood merchants. Safety on the road is important too, especially for our vulnerable users, which is why I’m proud of my work on raising awareness on sharing the road and my support for common sense changes to motor vehicle collision recovery.
When it comes to environmental action, we will need to continue looking to our cities to lead. That's why I was very proud that my bill to create a Climate Change and Resiliency Commission will ensure government agencies work collaboratively to ensure the District is prepared to react and recover from adverse impacts and events that climate change will continue to bring. I'm also proud of my Tree Canopy Protection Act, which aims to preserve and expand the District’s important and beautiful urban tree canopy.
I remain committed to good government reforms as well. While I expect to reintroduce measures in the new Council Period related to electoral and campaign finance reforms, I am proud that two important election changes I authored passed this Council Period: Automatic Voter Registration and Ballot Access Modernization.
District residents fiercely champion their home and its sense of community. Some of that civic pride can be seen in my End Taxation Without Representation vehicle tag bill, which changes the statement on our license plates from our current status to a rallying cry for change; and the Commemorative Flag bill, which allows District residents to request a DC flag flown over our own statehouse, the John A. Wilson Building. In addition to those efforts, I also introduced several measures brought to me by our Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, who supported naming streets and alleys in recognition of the contributions of many of our neighbors, which help to create a sense of place and community within our neighborhoods.
With a new Council Period about to begin, I'm excited to work with you on the next set of priorities and keep battling for the changes and improvements that make our neighborhoods such a special place to call home.
NSO In Your Neighborhood: January 3-9
We are fortunate to have the NSO In Your Neighborhood program arriving in the Southeast and Southwest neighborhoods of Ward 6 next week. This initiative features free performances and educational activities by the National Symphony Orchestra in neighborhood venues ranging from the Hill Center to Congressional Cemetery, Mr. Henry's to Bluejacket, and the Southwest Neighborhood Library to East City Books. The kickoff concert will be held at the Arena Stage on Wednesday, January 4, at 7:30pm. All performances are free, although some require RSVPs and spaces are filling fast. Events include full orchestra concerts, in-school visits, chamber performances, artistic exchange, instrument petting zoos, and a range of classes, presented in schools, churches, community centers, night clubs and performing arts venues. Please visit NSO In Your Neighborhood for a full list of events and performances.
Tues, Jan 2: New Councilmembers Sworn In; Council Period 22 Begins
Thurs, Jan 5, 6:30-8:30pm: RFK Campus Redevelopment Citywide Community Meeting - Convention Center
Sat, Jan 7: Ward 6 Bird Count
As always, thank you for your support. Please let me know if there’s anything I or my staff can do to help you or your neighborhood.