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Council advances universal paid leave for D.C. workers

For Immediate Release: 
December 6, 2016
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105
mnocella@dccouncil.us

Council advances universal paid leave for D.C. workers

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Council of the District of Columbia passed out of the Committee of the Whole the Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2015 which provides up to eight weeks of paid leave to workers in D.C.

“Today is a victory for D.C. workers,” Grosso, who co-introduced the bill in October 2015, said.  “No longer will they need to risk financial ruin to address serious medical conditions or care for a newborn baby or other loved one.”

Under the legislation, employees who have a child through birth, adoption, foster care or other legal placement will be eligible for up to eight weeks of paid leave.  It would also provide up to six weeks of paid leave to D.C. workers to care for a family member experiencing a serious health condition, and up to two weeks for a personal serious health condition.

Workers will be able to receive up to 90 percent of their wages in those periods, capped at $1,000 per week.  Federal and local government employees will not be eligible for the benefits.

“We will also give our local businesses the ability to offer a progressive benefit to all of their employees,” Grosso added. “They will now have a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining highly qualified employees.

“This is good for society. As a country we lag behind the rest of the world on family leave, but as a city we will be a leader.  Our success will provide further evidence of its benefits to jurisdictions across the country.”

“I want to thank Chairman Phil Mendelson for his commitment to bringing this bill up for consideration before the end of the year and the work he and his staff have done to make that possible,” Grosso said. “I also greatly appreciate the partnerships of Councilmember Elissa Silverman, the D.C. Paid Leave Coalition, the National Partnership for Women and Families, Family Values @ Work, and the many other advocates working on this measure.”

The bill is likely to pass a vote later today and then a second vote at the final legislative meeting of the Council on Dec. 20 before going to Mayor Muriel Bowser for her signature.

“I hope the Mayor will provide our workers and businesses the vast benefits this bill offers and support paid leave with her signature.”

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Revised paid leave bill would be nation’s most expansive

For Immediate Release: 
November 28, 2016
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105
mnocella@dccouncil.us

Revised paid leave bill would be nation’s most expansive

Washington, D.C. – Today, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson released details of a revised version of the Universal Paid Leave Act of 2015, which Councilmember David Grosso introduced along with Councilmember Silverman in October of 2015.

“I introduced the Universal Paid Leave Act over a year ago to support D.C. workers and families, while giving our local businesses a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining highly qualified employees," Grosso said. "Today’s revised version holds true to those principles. I look forward to voting in support of the bill when it comes before the full Council next Tuesday.”

Under the revised legislation, employees who have a child through birth, adoption, foster care or other legal placement will be eligible for 11 weeks of paid leave.  It would also provide 8 weeks of paid leave to D.C. workers to care for a family member experiencing a personal serious health condition.

“Even revised, this legislation offers the most expansive paid leave benefit in the country,” Grosso said.  “It puts workers in a better position to care for their families while providing a benefit that is not available anywhere else. That is something we should be very proud to vote for.”

The bill’s definition of family and major events are inclusive of the diversity of D.C.’s workers and families, including low-income workers, single-parent households, caregiving for non-child family members, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, and more.

The program will be funded through an employer-paid payroll tax of just 0.62%.

“I want to thank Chairman Mendelson for his commitment to bringing this bill up for consideration before the end of the year and everything he and his staff have done to make that possible,” Grosso said. “I also greatly appreciate the efforts of Councilmember Silverman, the D.C. Paid Leave Coalition, the National Partnership for Women and Families, Family Values @ Work, and the many other advocates working on this measure.

“It is time for the Council to finally act on this legislation and I urge my colleagues to support it next Tuesday.”

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Grosso urges President Obama to grant clemency to D.C. offenders

 

For Immediate Release: 

November 23, 2016
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105
mnocella@dccouncil.us

 

Grosso urges President Obama to grant clemency to D.C. offenders

Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso sent a letter today to the President of the United States asking him to grant clemency to individuals who fit the requirements of his broad clemency initiatives that have been convicted of offenses under the D.C. Code. The following is his statement:

“President Obama deserves praise for the impressive work he’s done to combat the harms perpetrated as part of the inequitable War on Drugs by providing a second chance to over 1,000 non-violent drug offenders.

“In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I sent a letter urging him to take D.C. Code offenders into special consideration in his final two months before an administration takes over that is unlikely to continue such an initiative.   

“As president of the United States, he is uniquely situated as the sole source of relief for those convicted of such crimes under the local laws of the District of Columbia.  Due to D.C.’s continued second-class status, our mayor has no such authority similar to chief executives in other jurisdictions.  D.C. has made progress recently to end ill-informed policies that put too many people in prison.  However, we are unable to repair the damage they have already done.

“My staff and I stand ready to assist in this effort and further this cause in any way we can.  I will continue to look for ways to reform the criminal justice system in the District of Columbia as I enter my second term representing all residents on the Council.”

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Grosso sends letter opposing installation of surveillance cameras in the Wilson Building

On Friday, November 18, 2016, Councilmember Grosso wrote a letter to Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and Secretary to the Council Nyasha Smith opposing the recent actions taken to install surveillance cameras in the Wilson Building outside of offices of councilmembers.

Apart from being mere security theater with no safety benefits for councilmembers, staff or visitors, the cameras have a chilling effect on constituents' willingness to engage with their elected representatives.

Read the full letter below:

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New structure for D.C. school athletics moves forward

For Immediate Release: 
November 15, 2016
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105
mnocella@dccouncil.us

New structure for D.C. school athletics moves forward

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Council of the District of Columbia preliminarily approved Councilmember David Grosso’s proposal to create a governing state association for interscholastic athletics that address issues plaguing the current structure.  The following is his statement on the proposal:

“Interscholastic athletics in the District of Columbia are desperately in need of reform.  During my tenure as chairperson of the Committee on Education it has become clear that problems persist that affect operations, governance, and enforcement. Solving these woes is necessary to restore confidence and accountability in school sports.

“The major issue facing our current system is a lack of structure for consistently enforcing rules and regulations that is easily understood by the public.  The roots of this problem stem from imprecise regulations further complicated by a piecemeal approach to governance.

 “The bill establishes the DCSAA as a quasi-independent agency that will act as the governing body.  OSSE will remain the regulatory authority for athletics.

“It creates a 15-person Commission, including mayor-appointed parents and members from the various types of schools, as well as non-voting ex-officio members from related agencies.  The Commission will have ultimate control over DCSAA and its staff and the authority to set and enforce membership standards that are consistent with D.C. laws and OSSE regulations.

“Additionally, the Commission will establish Athletics Appeals Panels, consisting of three voting members from the commission, who will hear appeals from member leagues or schools.

“For example, if a DCPS student has an eligibility dispute at their school the DCIAA will hear the matter and issue a ruling.  If the student wants to appeal the decision, they can bring it to an Athletic Appeals Panel who will review DCIAA’s decision on its merits without doing any further fact-finding.  The Athletics Appeals Panel will then issue a final decision that will be enforced by the Commission. 

 “A lot of time and effort went into thoughtfully crafting this bill.  I would like to thank those who engaged with me and my staff to give us insight into their experiences with interscholastic athletics, especially our agency partners at OSSE, DCPS, the PCSB, and other charter LEAs for participating in working groups about the current regulations. I look forward to final passage at the next legislative meeting of the Council.”

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Grosso wins re-election, recommits to fighting for D.C. residents

For Immediate Release: 
November 9, 2016
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105
mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso wins re-election, recommits to fighting for D.C. residents

Washington, D.C – Last night, At-Large Councilmember David Grosso was re-elected to a second four year term on the Council of the District of Columbia.  The following is his statement:

“I am eternally grateful to the voters for returning me to office for another four year term last night.  It is truly an honor to serve every resident of the District of Columbia on the Council.

“Now is the time to deepen our efforts to build a better city.  My priority has always been to expand the human rights of all our residents.  Everything we need to do – improving our schools, reforming our criminal justice system, providing more affordable housing, expanding economic opportunities – is rooted in a basic respect for the rights and dignity of each person.

“This will not be accomplished alone.  It will be the charge of all our elected leaders and every resident. I have always believed that the greatest strength of this city is our people’s fierce embrace of its diversity.  We must recommit to that strength today. We must fight for each other. We must work for the most vulnerable among us. We must lift each other up. We must love one another.

“Thank you again.  I and my staff stand ready to serve you.”

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Grosso requests funding to establish tax and regulate system for marijuana

Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), along with Councilmember Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1), today urged Mayor Muriel Bowser to release funds from the Contingency Reserve to allow the District of Columbia to move forward with creating a system for the taxation and regulation of marijuana.

Here is the full letter:

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Grosso Statement on Support for Death with Dignity Act

For Immediate Release
October 5, 2016
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105
mnocella@dccouncil.us

Washington, D.C. – Today, Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) released the following statement following his vote in the Committee on Health and Human Services to advance Bill 21-38, the Death with Dignity Act of 2016:

“Bill 21-38, the “Death with Dignity Act of 2016”, is one of the more difficult pieces of legislation I have had to contend with in my time on the Council. It deals with very complex and emotional issues, and the stakes are life and death.  At the very heart of the issue is balancing the personal rights of adults with the government interest in protecting vulnerable individuals.  Ultimately, my guiding principles to respect an individual’s rights to make their own decisions and to rely on the best available data when making decisions led me to support this legislation today.

“It was not a decision I came to lightly. I met extensively with many different people and organizations with varied opinions on it over the past two months:  The Arc, D.C. Center for Independent Living, National Council on Independent Living, and other disability rights advocates; Compassion and Choices, the Secular Coalition for America and other advocates for the bill; doctors, nurses, and medical ethicists; D.C. residents struggling with terminal disease and wishing to have physician assistance in death; and many more. I have also heard from countless constituents on both sides of the issue.  These advocates are very passionate, and I appreciate their consistent engagement to provide the Council with multiple perspectives that helped us examine this issue from every angle.

“I would prefer the government not be involved at all with this issue.  A matter this personal should be considered thoughtfully between an individual, their family and friends, and their doctor. 

“However, part of why this issue is so contentious is because of fears about coercion, and the duty of the government to protect the vulnerable. I am apprehensive about this bill because I know the reality that many members of our community do not have equitable access to healthcare, and are viewed as inherently less valuable by our society. I take very seriously the concerns of people with disabilities who worry that this legislation will be used to coerce individuals into ending their lives prematurely.

“The devil is in the details, and we must fully consider them and take great care in enacting and implementing this bill.  I would like to know how this bill would envision an investigation into an instance of possible coercion. I would like to know how this bill ensures that no one in the District of Columbia will be told by their insurance that an experimental treatment is too expensive, but that Death with Dignity is affordable and a better option. And I would like to know what we will do as a Council if we pass this legislation to send a clear message that no matter the challenges an individual might face in life, no matter the illness or disabilities they may face, that this is the only life we get and we should live it to the fullest, even in circumstances that are challenging, unpleasant, and unfamiliar.

“To some it may seem to go against a lot of the work I have done trying to prevent suicide since the residents of the District of Columbia elected me to serve on the Council.  Just last fall, we passed a bill I wrote that seeks to address suicide and mental health among young people. 

“I remain dedicated to continue that work.

“Yet, as a matter of basic principle, I believe that adults should be able to make choices about their own lives and bodies. It is hard for me to imagine telling a person in the final months of their life that they must continue to fight if they desire to end things on their own terms.

“Equally important to me is to base legislative decisions on data. The data from other states have not shown that similar laws have targeted vulnerable communities.  To the contrary, in Oregon, where this has been law for 20 years, those taking the covered medication are more likely to be economically and educationally privileged.  There have also been no substantiated cases of coercion.

“So today, I voted in favor of advancing this bill. However, my work does not end here.  I will continue to discuss this legislation and potential amendments with Councilmember Alexander, Councilmember Cheh, and our other colleagues. I also want to reiterate my commitment to fight for the rights of people with disabilities and the elderly, and that my work on issues of mental health and suicide prevention will continue.

“In the event that the Council passes this bill, I will keep a close eye on its implementation and if there are problems I will be the first to propose changes.

“I would like to thank all of the advocates and community members who have met with me, reached out to me, and engaged in the process, because your participation in this debate is critical and will continue to be invaluable as this legislation moves forward.”

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Grosso writes to Board of Elections about voter registration problem

Over the weekend, Councilmember Grosso heard from a long time resident, who has been voting in D.C. elections since 1964, that she received a notice of no longer being registered to vote from the D.C. Board of Elections. Subsequently, other residents also reached out with the same problem. After looking into it, Grosso found the agency's response inadequate and wrote to the Board today to ask that they address the issue immediately, as early voting for the 2016 election starts next month. See the letter below, followed by an example of what residents received--and the registration card that shows a birthdate in 1800, which is the source of the problem.

Update: Less than a day later, the Board of Elections responded to Councilmember Grosso's letter saying they will be sending a clarifying mailer to voters affected by the original confusing notice.  You can see their response below. 

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DOH updates Grosso on opioid overdoses, LGBTQ policies, and other health issues

In August, Councilmember Grosso sent a lengthy letter outlining a number of concerns to Department of Health Director Nesbitt. The letter covered the agency’s response to the increase in opioid overdoses, changes to home visiting programs, updates on LGBTQ health policies, health impact assessments, and the agency’s medical marijuana program.

On September 13, Grosso received a response from Nesbitt, which you can view below along with Grosso’s original letter. This past week brought further progress on some issues, as the Council’s Committee on Health and Human Services passed the Substance Abuse and Opioid Overdoes Prevention Amendment Act of 2016 and the mayor announced the doubling of the amount of cannabis medical marijuana program participants may request in a month. Grosso, a member of the Committee on Health and Human Services, will continue to monitor these topics and push DOH to improve its policies and programs, and make them known to the public.

Councilmember Grosso's original inquiry letter:

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Grosso invites D.C. youth to public roundtable on issues facing the city's young people

Councilmember David Grosso announces the scheduling of a public roundtable of the Committee on Education on youth issues. The roundtable will be held at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 2, 2016 in Hearing Room 500 of the John A. Wilson Building.  The purpose of this roundtable is to hear testimony from District of Columbia youth regarding issues that impact their lives as they make their way through the public education system. 

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Grosso tackles pay gap, student debt, and out-of-school time as Council returns to work

For Immediate Release: 
September 20, 2016
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105
mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso tackles pay gap, student debt, and out-of-school time as Council returns to work

Washington, DC – The Council of the District of Columbia returned from its annual summer recess today and Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) wasted no time proposing solutions to challenges faced by the District of Columbia. The gender and racial pay gap, funding for critical out-of-school time activities, and the growing student debt problem were the focus of new legislation introduced by the councilmember.

Closing the District Wage Gap

Grosso introduced the Fair Wage Amendment Act of 2016 to address persistent pay inequities for women, especially women of color, face in D.C.

“Equal pay for equal work is a simple concept. Yet, even in D.C. the wage gap that women experience persists,” said Grosso.

The bill would prohibit employers in the city from requesting information about a prospective employee’s salary and benefit history before an employer makes a job and compensation offer.  This would help to end a practice that perpetuates the wage gap.

“Leaving a job that is unfairly compensating you is no guarantee that your pay will be much better when employers make job offers based on previous, deflated wages. We can break that cycle.”

According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, women in D.C. make 90 cents for every dollar paid to men.  It’s much worse for women of color: African-American women earn just 56 cents on the dollar and Latinas just 50 cents when compared to white, non-Hispanic men.

Addressing Student Loan Debt

Grosso also introduced the Student Loan Ombudsman Establishment and Servicing Regulation Act of 2016 to address the increasing burden student loans are placing on D.C. residents

“Growing student debt presents a serious challenge for our residents and our local economy, creating a burden that follows them and stifles every aspect of their lives: buying a house, starting a business, saving for retirement, and furthering their education,” Grosso said.  “This bill is a first step that assists District borrowers and increases servicer accountability.”

The bill would create an ombudsman in the Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking empowered to establish licensing requirements for student loan servicers in the city.  They would also be charged with informing D.C. residents about their options when seeking student loans and when working to repay them.

Recommitting to Youth Development

Finally, Grosso, along with Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, introduced the Office of Youth Outcomes and Grants Establishment Act of 2016.  The bill establishes a framework for greater strategy-setting, coordination and funding for out-of-school programming.

Out-of-school time programming has myriad benefits to youth who participate, improving their educational, behavioral, and physical health outcomes. Funding for such programming currently comes from many government agencies, including grants to youth-serving groups via the D.C. Trust, which dissolves on September 30.

“What we are proposing today provides equitable access to quality out-of-school time services, which we know help best position our students to succeed,” Grosso said. “As Chairperson of the Committee on Education, I see this coordinated, data-driven, multi-agency effort as an opportunity to create real results, insulated from the political manipulation and financial impropriety of the past.”

The bill establishes both an Office and a Commission on Youth Outcomes and Grants charged with overseeing inter-agency coordination, tracking data and assessing need and outcomes, and making grants to organizations that provide out-of-school programming to District of Columbia youth.

“This legislation is informed by the efforts led by the Deputy Mayors for Health and Human Services and Education to plot the next steps for our out of school time efforts in light of the Trust’s dissolution. I look forward to continuing to work with them and other stakeholders to incorporate their input as we move through the legislative process.”

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