Local Business Support Amendment Act of 2017

Introduced: February 7, 2017

Co-introducer: Chairman Phil Mendelson

Summary: To amend the District of Columbia Code to create a local business ombudsman; establish roles and responsibilities of the Ombudsman’s office and to designate agency-wide Officers for Small and Local Business Inclusion; to remove endorsement fees for the issuance and renewal of basic business licenses; to allow a basic business license to be issued without a certificate of occupancy; to allow for the same registered trade name to be used for multiple business locations; to amend the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations to decrease the percentage of funds owed each quarter by supply schedule vendors for doing business with the government; to amend the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations for trade name renewal and requirement for an expiration notice.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Thank you, Chairman Mendelson.  Today, along with you, I am introducing the “Local Business Support Amendment Act of 2017.”

During my first term in office, I served as an active member of the Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs and was an active member of the Workforce Investment Council.  During that time, I became deeply familiar with the agencies that govern business operations in District of Columbia.

I consistently heard from local businesses of all sizes that D.C. government regulations are not business friendly and there are very few incentives for businesses to locate here.

After meeting with businesses and associations of all sizes, we devised a few relatively simple ways the D.C. Council can act to alleviate the government imposed burdens on our city’s businesses. 

First, this bill creates a Local Business Ombudsman who will act as an independent business navigator and will work on behalf of businesses to trouble shoot and act as the point of contact during permitting, licensing and taxation process.

Second the bill will separate the Certificate of Occupancy from the Basic Business License process.  It will allow for a Basic Business License to be issued without the requirement of a Certificate of Occupancy.  Currently, businesses throughout the city lose start-up capital waiting for the approval of their Basic Business License because they had to obtain the Certificate of Occupancy first, with no exceptions.   Others do not need a Certificate of Occupancy at all, but are forced to obtain one regardless of their business model.

Third, the bill will allow for the transfer of a Basic Business License to a new location without any additional fees and it will also remove the additional endorsement fees when a business license is issued or renewed.  I understand that this is revenue for the city, but I believe we need to closely analyze what these seemingly small fees on businesses are really worth if they are ultimately driving industry and jobs out of the city.      

Lastly, the bill will allow for a registrant to apply for, and use, only one trade name for a business under the same Basic Business License.  It will extend the trade name issuance from two years to five years to remove the burden of costly biennial reporting.  It will also decrease the percentage of funds owed each quarter by D.C. supply schedule vendors for doing business with the D.C. government. 

These are impactful changes that can be made to make us better aligned with how neighboring jurisdictions treat trade name registration and reporting. 

I believe this bill can be the catalyst for a necessary conversation about how we can pass responsible laws and regulations that do not hinder the greatest drivers of our local economy. 

I yield the remainder of my time to the Chairman for any remarks and we welcome any co-sponsors.

Thank you.