Jack Evans Report: Bills, Bills, Bills
It has been a busy couple of weeks. Council Period 19 is wrapping up, and my colleagues use this time to finish moving forward all the bills they haven’t gotten around to moving earlier in our two-year legislative session. While I understand this tendency, I frankly grow concerned about rushing through more than 70 bills in a single legislative day without the time and deliberation they may deserve. On the other hand, I understand the desire to complete the work on bills and reports that have already received the benefit of a large amount of staff time, rather than having to start all over in a new year.
For better or for worse, we have a particularly long committee of the whole and legislative meeting scheduled for today, Dec. 4 (which is in the future as I write this, though I realize it will be over by the time the article is printed). A couple of particularly controversial items are on the agenda. First, a comprehensive alcoholic beverage regulation bill is up for a vote. While many of the provisions in the long bill seem to have consensus support, there are at least seven provisions that some of my constituents have found objectionable, and I intend to support several amendments that I understand will be brought today.
Another controversial bill on the agenda today is being brought by Councilmember Barry in an attempt to protect ex-offenders from discrimination in the workplace. After the well-publicized irregular nature of Mr. Barry’s markup vote – recessing and then reconvening only after opposing councilmembers had left the room – I understand the chairman is going to rule this bill out of order. While it may be preferable to have an up-or-down vote on the merits of the bill, that does not appear to be possible today.
In my committee, I marked up ten measures of my own recently, including revenue bonds and tax abatements for a number of important projects in our city, such as the Elizabeth Ministry project on 55th Street, SE, in Ward 7, the Israel Senior Residences project near the Rhode Island Avenue Metro station in Ward 5, and the Howard Town Center project at Georgia Avenue and 8th Street, NW, in Ward 1.
In my oversight capacity, I am holding a hearing on our CFO and lottery on Dec. 13. While I continue to be concerned about the recent news reports and SEC inquiry, I am pleased to share that our recent issuance of tax revenue anticipation notes and income tax secured revenue bonds was extremely successful – the former garnered a rate of 0.19 percent (compared to 0.27 percent last year) and the interest rate for the latter is 3.16 percent (compared to last year’s 3.77 percent). The proceeds of the FY13 TRANS fund the District’s governmental expenses, and the proceeds of the FY13 ITSBs implement the District’s FY13 capital improvement plan that includes school modernization, renovation of public parks, transportation improvements and many other projects that benefit the citizens of the District. Please reach out to my office if you have any questions or concerns.★