Comment

Grosso sends inquiry letter to DDOT on bicycle infrastructure East of the River

Today, Councilmember David Grosso sent a letter to the District Department of Transportation to inquire about studies and plans to bring more bicycle racks to Historic Anacostia. Councilmember Grosso noticed a complete lack of infrastructure for bicyclists while participating in the Peace Walk on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

We will update this post when we receive a response from DDOT.

Comment

Comment

Commercial sex workers need safer spaces and more economic options

For Immediate Release:

January 11, 2016

Contact:

Matthew Nocella, 202.286.1987

Commercial sex workers need safer spaces and more economic options

Washington, DC – The following is a statement by Councilmember David Grosso on the closure of the adult services section of the website Backpage.com:

“The closure of the adult services section of the classifieds website Backpage.com worsens dangerous working conditions for those involved in commercial sex. Although it was far from perfect, the website provided a safer way for sex workers to advertise their services and screen potential customers—by removing that venue, the government is directly making involvement in commercial sex more dangerous for sex workers. Unfortunately, so many sex workers have been relying on Backpage.com because of previous government action against other online venues that also gave sex workers greater safety and greater autonomy, including Craigslist and Rentboy.

“These kinds of tactics are well-known to sex workers and those who follow these issues—law enforcement actions against sex workers on the streets and in venues pushed these communities further into the shadows. But shuttering a webpage or locking up someone for solicitation does not address the fundamental economic motivation behind most sex workers’ actions. These actions do not put a roof over someone’s head or pay for college debt or cover the utility bills.

“By attacking Backpage.com, and by not listening to sex workers, the government is further limiting the options for people who already have too few. Instead we should be increasing options—encouraging safer working conditions for sex workers, creating more avenues for people to leave commercial sex if they want to, and designing interventions to stop coercion and exploitation based in data, not moralistic campaigns. We should be dedicating resources to harm reduction services, working to eliminate stigma against sex workers, and partnering with sex workers to identify and stop situations of coercion and exploitation. Although the government targeted Backpage.com allegedly to address human trafficking in the commercial sex sector, this move actually undermines that work, while making working conditions more dangerous for everyone in the sector.

“Just last month I was honored to join community members in D.C. to commemorate the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. I heard heartbreaking stories from D.C. and around the world about people whose lives were taken because they were viewed as less than human due to their involvement in sex work. To stop those stories from repeating, we need to listen to what people engaged in commercial sex have to say about their own safety and well-being.”

 

###

 

Comment

Comment

Fair Wage Amendment Act of 2017

Fair Wage Amendment Act of 2017

Introduced: January 9, 2017

Co-introducers: Councilmembers Jack Evans, Brianne Nadeau, Mary Cheh, Elissa Silverman, Charles Allen, Robert White

Summary: To amend the Wage Transparency Act of 2014 to prohibit an employer from screening prospective employees based on their wage history or seeking the wage history of a prospective employee.

Fact Sheet

Comment

Comment

Early Learning Equity in Funding Amendment Act of 2017

Early Learning Equity in Funding Amendment Act of 2017

Introduced: January 10, 2017

Co-introducers: Councilmember Trayon White

Summary: To amend the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula for Public Schools and Public Charter Schools Act of 1998 to amend the definition of at-risk to include a Pre-k age student receiving education services at a community based organization; and to amend the State Education Office Establishment Act of 2000 to establish a pilot program to provide a facility allowance to high quality child development centers and child development homes that meet certain criteria.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Thank you Chairman Mendelson.

This morning, along with Councilmember Trayon White, I am introducing the “Early Learning Equity in Funding Amendment Act of 2017.”

When D.C. began its movement toward universal Pre-K, it was in response to a significant body of research that found that investments in early childhood development pays huge dividends in closing and preventing achievement gaps between minority and low-income students and their white and middle-class peers. The District was and is a national leader in the expansion and success of our Pre-K3 and Pre-K4 programs in our public and public charter schools.

What is not often discussed, however, are the thousands of three and four year olds who are receiving Pre-K3 and Pre-K4 educational services from community-based child development centers and homes. Although these organizations, like are local education agencies (LEAs), are being asked teach a quality comprehensive curriculum to ensure kindergarten readiness and meet the District’s early learning and development standards, the District has not provided them with the same financial resources that we provide DCPS and public charter schools.

Did you know that while child development centers are serving Pre-K3 and Pre-K4 students, they are not all receiving the per pupil allocation under the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula? While DCPS and public charter schools receive $12,719 to educate a 3-year old, a gold-level child development centers receives a mere $42 a day for full time care. If you multiply that by the 180 days in a school year, that amounts to $7,560 – which is over $5,000 difference.

They also do not have access to additional allocations such as at-risk funding, which provides an additional $2100 per kid to schools recognizing that children who are homeless, in the foster care system, or qualify for TANF or SNAP are in need of more. 

It is no wonder many of our child development centers and homes who serve the subsidy program have trouble staying in the positive in terms of finances while also trying to compete with LEAs in terms of recruiting and retaining high quality teachers and staff.

The “Early Learning Equity in Funding Amendment Act” attempts to infuse more equity into our early learning funding. First, the legislation amends the definition of “at-risk” to include a Pre-k age student receiving education services at a community-based organization. Second, the bill establishes a pilot program within the Office of the State Superintendent of Education to provide a facility allowance to high quality child development centers and child development homes that meet certain criteria. The facility allowance would be administered in a similar manner that the District follows for public charter schools.

Access to high-quality and affordable early care and learning is a growing concern for families in the District of Columbia, especially as the number of residents with young children continues to rise. If the government is able to better support our child development centers and homes with more equitable funding, it is my hope that we are able to increase the number of slots available. Given the vast research about child brain development and the importance of what happens ages 0-3 to setup a child for academic and life-long success, I do believe early care and early learning is in fact an education matter.

I want to yield my remaining time to my co-introducer. And I welcome any and all co-cosponsors.

 

Comment

Comment

Childhood Protection Against Sexual Abuse Amendment Act of 2017

Childhood Protection Against Sexual Abuse Amendment Act of 2017

Introduced: January 10, 2017

Co-introducers: Councilmembers Mary Cheh, Brandon Todd, and Robert White

Summary: To amend Title 12 of the District of Columbia Official Code to eliminate the civil statute of limitations for recovery of damages arising out of child sex abuse claims and to provide a 2-year period for people whose claims were barred by a previous statute of limitations to bring those claims.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Thank you Chairman Mendelson.

There are few actions more depraved than sexual violence against children. Full of boundless curiosity, bold imagination, and care-free spirits, the unique innocence of childhood is something to marvel.

Unfortunately 1 in 10 children will be stripped of this innocence before their 18th birthday.  Alarmingly, children are most vulnerable to sexual abuse between the ages of 7 and 13.

Because children have no comprehension of adult sexual behaviors and activity, any exposure to these aspects of adult life can and often does result in mental and emotional trauma.

The experience of sexual violence as a child is one that endures for the ages.  Most survivors do not come forward until, on average age 42, suffering for years with depression, feelings of guilt and sometimes difficulty forming intimate relationships. 

That is why today, along with Councilmembers Brandon Todd, Robert White and Mary Cheh, I am introducing the Childhood Protection Against Sexual Abuse Amendment Act of 2017.

This legislation eliminates the civil statute of limitations for recovery of damages arising out of child sex abuse claims. 

Additionally, the bill creates a two-year window for individuals whose claims of child sex abuse were previously time-barred, enabling victims to go back in time and begin working to heal.

Currently, there are 8 states and one U.S. territory that have no civil statute of limitations in cases involving the sexual violence or abuse of children. (Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, Utah and Guam).

Across the country, this issue is being revisited.  Just last year California, Hawaii, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania all introduced child sex abuse statutes of limitations reform bills.  Similarly, Tennessee and Utah enacted child sex abuse statutes of limitations reform measures.

Further, other states have enacted statute of limitations revival measures to include California (2003), which allowed for a 1-year look back window and Connecticut (2010), which revived expired claims up to age 48. 

Child safety depends on legislators holding institutions, not just individual perpetrators, accountable for their actions.  We cannot continue to allow individuals or institutions to maintain their depraved secrets. We must instead encourage and empower victims to come forward and know that a fair and just system is in place to help them right unspeakable wrongs.

I yield the remainder of my time to my co-introducers and I welcome any co-sponsors. 

 

Comment

Comment

Public School Health Services Amendment Act of 2017

Public School Health Services Amendment Act of 2017

Introduced: January 10, 2017

Co-introducers: Councilmembers Brianne Nadeau, Jack Evans, Charles Allen, Mary Cheh, Vincent Gray, Elissa Silverman, Trayon White, Anita Bonds

Summary: To amend the District of Columbia Public School Nurse Assignment Act of 1987 to increase the minimum hours per week of registered public school nurse services at elementary and secondary public and public charter schools to 40 hours per week.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Thank you Chairman Mendelson.

This morning along with Councilmembers Nadeau, Evans, Allen, Cheh, Gray, Silverman, T. White, and Bonds, I am introducing the “Public School Health Services Amendment Act of 2017.”

This legislation amends the District of Columbia Public School Nurse Assignment Act of 1987 to increase the minimum hours per week of registered public school nurse services at public and public charter schools to 40 hours per week.

As most of you know, last year, the Deputy Mayor for Education sent a letter to LEA leaders announcing the Department of Health’s new model for the school health services program. Under the new program, registered nurses will continue to provide clinical care for all children with special health care needs who require daily medications or treatment. Additional health professionals and community navigators will work with families, schools, and students’ primary care providers to make sure students receive well-child exams and the preventive services they need to be healthy. 

However, the school nurse service levels were to be reset for all schools at a minimum of 20 hours each week. Schools may receive more nursing coverage depending on the medical needs of student population based on a risk-based health needs assessment.

While families and the public were supportive of adding more allied health professionals to schools to help with care coordination, including community navigators to connect families with local assets, parents were alarmed at the idea that there would not always be a qualified health professional on site to assess and triage sick and injured children or provide emergency care as needed. Simply calling 911 or working parents anytime a child presents with a potential health problem should not be our schools default.

Due to these concerns, the Council was successful in delaying in reduction in nurse services to school year 2017-2018. However, there still needs to be a public conversation about whether the District should be reducing school nursing hours or rather aligning itself with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which both recommend having at least one full-time nurse in every school.

During a public roundtable on school health services last year, witnesses testified for five and a half hours about their concerns regarding the new program, particularly fear of losing full-time school nurses services. Many asked the Council to introduce legislation to increase the statutory minimum school nursing service level to 40 hours per week. To those constituents I say, we heard you. For me, this is about giving our families a piece of mind. Ensuring that there is always a qualified health professional at our public schools is a safety net.

I welcome any and all co-sponsors.

 

Comment

Comment

Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2017

Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2017

Introduced: January 10, 2017

Co-introducers: Councilmember Robert White, Councilmember Brianne Nadeau

Summary: To legalize the possession, consumption, display, purchasing, or transporting of marijuana and marijuana-infused products for personal use, not in public, for persons over the age of 21;  to establish that possession, consumption, display, purchasing, or transporting of marijuana and marijuana-infused products shall not constitute a civil or criminal offense under District law or be a basis for seizure or forfeiture of assets under District laws, for persons under the age of 21; to amend the District of Columbia Uniform Controlled Substances Act of 1981 to decriminalize certain amounts of marijuana and marijuana-infused products for personal use; to amend the Drug Paraphernalia Act of 1982 to strike certain paraphernalia related to marijuana use from the provision; to amend Title 25 of the District of Columbia Official Code to establish the licensing and regulation infrastructure for the production, sale, consumption, and testing of retail marijuana and retail marijuana-infused products in the District of Columbia; to establish a dedicated marijuana fund, which shall consist of all sales tax and excise tax revenue from retail marijuana; to direct all retail marijuana license fees, penalties, forfeitures, and all other monies, income, or revenue received by the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration from retail marijuana-related activities; to establish a tax on the gross receipts of retail marijuana sales and on the first sale or transfer of unprocessed retail marijuana in the District of Columbia; to clarify the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Amendment Act of 2010 maintaining each regulation, standard, rule, notice, order and guidance promulgated or issued by the Mayor, except where inconsistent with this act, and the rights of any person holding a license pursuant to that legislation; and to amend Title 18 of D.C. Municipal Regulation to adjust allowances of THC concentration while operating a motor vehicle.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Today I am also introducing the Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2017, along with Councilmembers Brianne Nadeau and Robert White.

When I introduced the first version of this bill in September 2013 none of my colleagues were willing to be co-introducers or co-sponsors.

At the time it was unclear whether or not decriminalization of marijuana would pass. 

But the numbers and the racial disparities were simply too compelling for us not to act. 

In the years since, I am proud that this Council did pass decriminalization and that voters approved Initiative 71 with almost 70% of the vote.

In that time we have seen marijuana-related arrests plummet, representing thousands of District residents who were spared that needless involvement in the judicial system.

Based off the data from before and after these policy changes, we know that the War on Drugs was a failure—it was increasing our mass incarceration problem, and not helping with our drug dependency problem.

The data also has consistently shown that the War on Drugs is racist in its implementation, so we also understand that changing these policies is a racial justice issue.

The logical next step, to continue to reduce arrests and to bring marijuana totally out of the shadows is to set up a strong tax and regulate system.

The legislation I’m introducing today would do just that, and it incorporates lessons from other jurisdictions that have moved forward with the regulation of recreational marijuana over the past few years.

Colorado, Washington state, Oregon, Alaska, California, Nevada, the list goes on--all these states have legal sales of marijuana, but we in D.C. do not, because in late 2014 Congress prohibited us from spending any of our local tax dollars to set up such a taxation and regulation system.

So this is a home rule question as well as a question of human rights, racial justice, and wise use of criminal justice resources.

The Harris Rider is a reminder of our second-class status—Congress cannot prohibit any of the fifty states from legalizing marijuana as they see fit, but Representative Harris and the leadership on the Hill has no problem undermining the work of this Council.

Comment

Comment

Grosso starts new term with renewed focus on students

For Immediate Release: 
January 10, 2017
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Grosso starts new term with renewed focus on students

Washington, DC – At the first legislative meeting of Council Period 22, Councilmember David Grosso introduced legislation to increase the health and financial resources that will put youth in the District of Columbia in the best position to succeed.

“Education continues to be my top priority on the Council,” said Grosso, who returns as chairperson of the Committee on Education. “Ensuring our students’ well-being and providing financial equity to our students is vital to their educational achievement.”

First, Councilmember Grosso introduced the “Public School Health Services Amendment Act of 2017” to provide students access to a full-time registered nurse at their school.

Last year, the Department of Health attempted to implement a new model for school health services which would have resulted in school nurse service levels being reset to a minimum of 20 hours each week.

Many parents were alarmed at the idea that there would not always be a qualified health professional on site to assess and triage sick and injured children or to provide emergency care as needed. The Council subsequently delayed implementation of the program for the remainder of the 2016-2017 school year.

The legislation introduced today would permanently increase the minimum hours per week of registered public school nurse services to 40 hours per week.

“For me, this is about giving our families piece of mind,” Grosso said. “Ensuring that there is always a qualified health professional at our public schools is a safety net.”

He also introduced the “Early Learning Equity in Funding Amendment Act of 2017” to infuse more equity into early learning funding.

Thousands of three- and four-year olds receive Pre-K3 and Pre-K4 educational services from community-based early childhood development centers and homes. Although these organizations, like D.C.’s local education agencies, teach a quality comprehensive curriculum to ensure kindergarten readiness and meet the District’s early learning and development standards, the District has not provided them with the same financial resources that we provide to DCPS and public charter schools.

The bill qualifies these organizations for additional funding by adding pre-kindergarten students receiving education services at community-based organizations in the definition of “at-risk”. It also establishes a pilot program to provide a facility allowance to high-quality child development centers and child development homes that meet certain criteria.

“Access to high-quality and affordable early care and learning is a growing concern for families in the District of Columbia, especially as the number of residents with young children continues to rise,” Grosso said. “More equitable funding invested in our youth at these early stages of development sets them up for later educational success.”

###

Comment

Comment

Second letter sent to DDOT, DGS regarding lack of sidewalk outside Wilson Building

Councilmember Grosso sent a follow up letter to the District Department of Transportation and the Department of General Services to inquire about the lack of sidewalks in front of the Wilson Building; his initial letter received no response.

Councilmember Grosso believes access to adequate sidewalk space, especially around government buildings that the public should be able to access easily, is a public safety concern.  Pedestrians have been observed walking into the street while multiple lanes remain available to cars.

A sidewalk should be established in the roadway immediately to allow for pedestrian safe passage.

Here is the councilmember's letter sent today:

Here is Councilmember Grosso's initial letter, sent December 7, 2016.

Comment

1 Comment

A second term offers a new opportunity to promote and protect human rights

On Monday, January 2, 2017, Councilmember Grosso was sworn-in to his second term on the Council of the District of Columbia.  Below is his swearing-in address, as delivered:

Fellow D.C. residents, thank you all very much for being here today. I’m extremely humbled by the opportunity to serve the people of the District of Columbia for another four years on the D.C. Council.  I want to thank my father-in-law, Dick Sippel, who swore me in today.

The right to freely choose our representatives, and thus the right to determine our own path and vision for our city, is not taken lightly by me or any of our residents – because it’s not too long ago that we remember we didn’t have that right.

The fact that voter turnout in the 2016 election was the highest in nearly two-and-a-half decades indicates that D.C. residents are more engaged in our democracy, in our governance, and in our quest for self-determination as the 51st State of the United States of America.

When I stood before you four years ago, we were in a very different position. Confidence in our local government was low and I vowed to help bring a new day to the District of Columbia, to engage our residents in our democracy, and to be transparent and ethical when exercising the duty of my office.

Today, the Council and indeed our city is in a better place than ever, and I will continue to fight for real change in D.C.

I am particularly proud of what we’ve done together.

We ensured that our children’s schools are funded according to need, not politics.

We lifted our workers’ wages and guaranteed they will not have to choose between taking care of their loved ones and paying their bills.

We have promoted the thriving arts and humanities communities and supported a creative economy that a world-class city such as ours deserves.

We have just begun reforming our criminal justice system in ways that center on treatment and prevention rather than solely on punishment.

And we’ve continued the upward trajectory of education reform. And in fact, the thing I’m most proud of accomplishing in the past four years is the passage of the ban on suspending or expelling three and four year olds in our schools. We have effectively in the District of Columbia eliminated the preschool to prison pipeline.

As chair of the Education Committee I want to especially thank and acknowledge the Mayor, Muriel Bowser for her selection of a new Chancellor. It’s going to help us lead the District of Columbia schools to a new place. Thank you Mayor Bowser.

I’m ready and willing to work together as we have done for the past two years since I’ve been the chair of the committee, to continue to address ways in which we can close the achievement gap, ensure appropriate wrap-around services, and put every student in the best position to succeed.

It is important to recognize that we enter this next Council Period under very different circumstances than the last time I stood before you.

The result of the national election reverberated in our city perhaps more than anywhere else in the nation. Many are scared and anxious as our future and the future of our laws are constantly at the whim of a Congress where we have no voting representation from our city, and many of its members have never set foot in our diverse neighborhoods.  

How we educate our children, address the needs of our workers, promote the health of our residents, maintain the integrity of our families, and even secure our right to a democratic form of government are, at this moment, very uncertain.

In the days after the 2016 election, I was reminded of the spirit and tenacity of our residents. In protest, our students walked out their classrooms in droves. In solidarity, they marched downtown.  With one voice, they declared that we will not be hostage to the hate and divisiveness of the incoming administration.

As the only true representatives of D.C. residents, we too must take up that call.  As elected leaders, we must be willing to stand up and speak with one voice against every provocation and threat to our self-governance and the vision we have for our great city. 

We must insist that the education of our children will be accountable to the people of the District of Columbia, not directed by those who disdain the value of public education.

We must declare that the War on Drugs was a grave injustice and continue our march toward criminal justice reform and the rolling back of policies that exacerbate racial inequities.

We must protect and respect the rights of women and girls and our LGBTQ community.

We must embrace that we are a sanctuary city and that we will protect families and communities from being torn apart by immigration policies rooted in fear and bigotry.

We must declare that we will not tolerate aggressions, guised in patriotism and security, against our Muslim brothers and sisters. 

And we must, we must declare that we are the 51st state and demand full participation in our democratic institutions.

On these issues, on all of these issues there can be no compromise if we are to protect and expand the progress we have made in the District of Columbia.

Everything needed to achieve a shared vision of an even brighter future for our city – improving our schools, reforming our criminal justice system, providing more affordable housing, expanding economic opportunities, empowering individual voters over all the special interests, promoting the arts and humanities– all of this is rooted in a basic respect for the human rights.

Now is, in fact, the time to deepen our efforts to protect the human rights of all of our residents.

In that task, I am extremely grateful to be surrounded in my office by an amazing and talented team who work tirelessly to make this vision a reality. Their dedication to public service, and all of the staff in the Council building, is admirable and I would not have accomplished nearly as much as I did without them, and I can’t hope to even come close to achieving the agenda set for the next four years without such a great staff.

But most of all, I want to thank the people of the District of Columbia. I want to thank all of you.  Thank you for placing your trust in me and for the opportunity to serve as an At-Large Councilmember for another four years.

Protecting our human rights cannot be done alone.  It must be the charge of all of our elected leaders and all of our residents. We must fight for each other. We must work for the most vulnerable among us. We must lift each other up. And we must love one another.

Thank you very much.

1 Comment

Comment

Council gives final approval to universal paid leave for D.C. workers

For Immediate Release: 
December 20, 2016
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Council gives final approval to universal paid leave for D.C. workers

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

“Today, the District of Columbia fundamentally changed how it treats workers,” Grosso, who co-introduced the bill in October 2015, said.  “Recognizing that our workers have responsibilities outside of their employment, the Council has voted to relieve them of the difficult choice between a paycheck and caring for a loved one.”

The bill provides 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 also provides 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.

“Paid leave provides financial stability to workers while allowing them to care for ailing family members. Parents who take leave after the arrival of a new child would return to work in better general health. More women would participate in the work place. Infant mortality would decline,” Grosso said.

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.

“The bill is also good for all businesses,” Grosso added. “They will now have a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining highly qualified employees with a progressive benefit that they can offer to all their workers at a fraction of the cost of providing it themselves. All this while continuing the upward trajectory of D.C.’s thriving economy.”

“I want to thank Chairman Phil Mendelson and his staff for his tireless work to hone our bill into something that won such overwhelming approval today.” Grosso said. “I also greatly appreciate the partnership of Councilmember Elissa Silverman and the advocacy efforts of the D.C. Paid Leave Coalition, the National Partnership for Women and Families, Family Values @ Work, and others in articulating the need for paid family leave in the District of Columbia.  We would not be where we are today without all of their incredible work.”

The bill now goes to Mayor Muriel Bowser for her approval.

“Over 80 percent of D.C. residents support this legislation.  I urge the mayor to stand with the workers and families of D.C. and sign the bill.”

###

Comment

Comment

Grosso to present ceremonial resolution to recognize International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

Tomorrow, December 17, community members will hold a vigil in Northwest D.C. to commemorate the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Cities and towns around the world will be marking this event, which started in 2003, when sex workers, family members and allies gathered for the sentencing of Gary Ridgeway, the so-called Green River Killer. Ridgeway confessed to murdering over 70 women in Washington, many of them sex workers. He said of his victims: “I picked prostitutes because I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without getting caught.”

Behind Ridgeway’s abhorrent statement is a recognition of a social attitudes that are widespread: that sex workers, people who trade sexual services for money or other things of value, are immoral criminals, who choose to put themselves in harm’s way, and deserve what they get. Indeed, even here in D.C., which generally strives to value the most vulnerable, sex workers have recounted their negative experiences reporting violence to the police. “They think you are the person doing the crime,” a sex worker told researchers in 2007 for the Move Along report, describing how police responded when he asked them for help. Another community member said of police and community reactions when a person suspected of being a sex worker is hurt or murdered: “They was out there tricking, so they were asking for it.” This research found that in D.C. when sex workers (or those assumed to be such) asked the police for help after being targeted for violence or other crimes, they only had a 50% chance of receiving a positive reaction from law enforcement.

Such challenges continue to this day, as recently reported in the Washington Post. The International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers is an effort to combat the stigma and discrimination facing people who deserve to have their human rights respected, no matter how they earn money. It is particularly a challenge for already marginalized communities, like transgender women of color, who are both more likely to engage in commercial sex and more likely to be profiled as such, according to another study, Access Denied, published by the D.C. Trans Coalition in 2015. More than half of transgender women of color respondents had engaged in trading sex for money, and they disproportionately reported experiencing physical and sexual assault.

To lend support to this movement to end violence and stigma against sex workers, the D.C. Council on December 6 passed the “International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers Recognition Resolution.” Councilmember Grosso will present this resolution on behalf of the Council on December 17 at the D.C. event. It continues Grosso’s commitment to advancing  human rights, including his support for Amnesty International’s call last year to decriminalize sex work in order to promote human rights and end violence. 

Comment

Comment

Council to take second vote on universal paid leave next week

Last week, the Council stepped up for D.C. working families by advancing paid family leave on its first vote.  I was proud to introduce that legislation along with Councilmember Silverman last year and thankful for the work of Chairman Mendelson to get it to where it is now.

Paid leave is good for workers and businesses. It provides financial stability to workers while allowing them to care for ailing family members. Parents who take leave after the arrival of a new child would return to work in better general health. More women would participate in the work place. Infant mortality would decline. Businesses would have a new benefit to offer that makes them more competitive and able to attract better workers. The list goes on. All this while continuing the upward trajectory of the District’s thriving economy, according to the Council’s budget office.

The legislation that we have advanced is the best option to bring paid family leave to the District of Columbia.

It’s true these benefits will be extended to all those who work in the District of Columbia, but that does not detract from D.C. residents’ eligibility for the program.

Some critics have called for a system that only provides benefits to District residents, where the annual pay outs to beneficiaries would be smaller. 

However, the cost per employee would be higher due to fixed set-up and administrative costs. The fund that provides the payout would also be less stable since it would have a smaller pool.

Worst of all, it would harm D.C. residents by creating a perverse incentive for D.C. businesses to hire Virginia and Maryland residents over District-based workers in order to avoid paying into the fund.

All of our workplace laws protect and provide benefits based on where people work, not live.  The minimum wage increase, which was championed by the mayor and unanimously passed by the Council earlier this year, goes to workers regardless of where they live.  It sends over $313 million into neighboring jurisdictions annually, though it benefits far fewer people then paid leave and is far more than the total $242 million in annual benefits that paid leave would offer to ALL D.C. workers.  We supported it anyways because it was the right thing to do for our workers who needed it most. 

Many people who work here, don’t live in this city.  Our lack of statehood disadvantages us as policymakers when trying to raise revenue from them.  But that has never stopped us from doing the right thing for our workers and our residents.

We recognize that the working families of D.C. can’t wait for the injustice of our second-class status to be righted before relieving them of having to make the difficult choice between a paycheck and caring for a loved one.  That’s why eleven members of the Council voted yes on paid leave.

So call, email, and tweet your Councilmembers THANKS for supporting paid leave last week!  You can find all their information here by visiting www.dccouncil.us/council. 

Comment

Comment

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.”

###

Comment

Comment

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.”

###

Comment

Comment

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.”

###

Comment

Comment

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:

Comment