Today, the full DC Council will hold a vote on nine bills passed out of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, chaired by Councilmember Charles Allen (Ward 6). Unless otherwise noted, these bills were on the consent agenda, which doesn’t have debate and passes unanimously. Below is a brief summary of some of those bills with links to more information.
Expanding Supports for Crime Victims Amendment Act of 2022
This bill was authored by Councilmember Charles Allen and is an omnibus bill dramatically expanding the supports and rights for victims and survivors of crime. Among its expansions, it would advance the creation of crime victim counselors who can guide victims through their financial, legal, health, and other areas of need. It would strengthen the District’s hospital-based violence intervention programs, allows more victims of crime to apply for compensation through the District, and create a new offense to allow MPD to respond immediately to someone violating a victim’s stay-away order. The bill passed unanimously out of Committee. Full press release here.
Stormiyah Denson-Jackson Economic Damages Equity Act of 2022
This is one of three bills being voted on today aimed at reducing racial inequity in the legal system. The bill bans the practice of reducing civil damages in a personal injury or wrongful death suit based on the litigant’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression. The bill was introduced by Councilmember Trayon White (Ward 8) and moved through Committee by Councilmember Charles Allen. It passed unanimously out of Committee last week. Full press release here.
Expanding Fee Waivers for Low-Income Litigants Amendment Act of 2022
This is the second of three bills being voted on today aimed at reducing racial inequity in the legal system. The bill was authored by Councilmember Allen and lowers barriers to costly filing fees in civil cases, including landlord-tenant, employment, and domestic violence cases. It passed out of Committee in September unanimously. Full press release here.
Partition of Real Property Act of 2022
This is the third of three bills being voted on today aimed at reducing racial inequity in the legal system. The bill increases legal protections in the distribution of real property, including for heirs when they inherit family homes without a will. Currently, the way equal division of real property is handled is often abused by third parties to the detriment of Black and Brown households, in particular. This bill puts in place stronger protections and a clearly defined process to ensure family members are not shut out or forced to sell a generational home, often a source of wealth-building, for less than market value, if at all. This bill passed out of Committee unanimously in September. Full press release here.
Uniform Power of Attorney Act of 2022
This bill strengthens the legal protections around powers of attorney, particularly for seniors and other vulnerable people who depend on these important legal documents to protect them from financial or other abuse. The bill passed out of Committee unanimously last week. Full press release here.
Elections Modernization Act of 2022
This bill was authored by Councilmember Allen and is an omnibus bill making many of the popular changes to voting in the District during the pandemic permanent. This includes mail-in ballots, ballot drop boxes, city-wide Vote Centers, and more. Comparing this spring’s voter turnout to the 2018 primary election, voter participation increased by 42 percent, demonstrating more voters were able to easily cast their vote in safe and secure elections. The bill also improves access to voting in Department of Corrections facilities and allows for the creation of an ANC representative within the facilities. The bill passed out of Committee unanimously last week. Full press release here.
Local Resident Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2022
This bill extends the right to vote in local elections - not federal - to any person who meets the other residency and age requirements to legally cast a ballot in the District, including non-citizens. In advancing the bill, Councilmember Allen noted that many residents have raised families, built lives here, and paid taxes without any say in their local government, which echoes the District’s experience of disenfranchisement without full statehood. The bill was authored by Councilmember Brianne Nadeau (Ward 1) and advanced through the Committee by Councilmember Allen. This is the only bill in this press release that was not on today’s consent agenda. The bill passed out of Committee unanimously last week. Full press release here.
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