Washington D.C. Preferred Terms Establishment Act of 2017

Introduced: June 20, 2017

Co-introducers: Councilmembers Anita Bonds, Elissa Silverman, Robert White, and Brianne Nadeau

Summary: To designate the Governor of Washington, D.C., the Legislative Assembly of Washington, D.C., Representative, and Speaker as preferred terms for references to the District of Columbia and its executive and legislative branches, respectively, and to direct the Mayor to develop a plan for implementing such terms.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Thank you Chairman Mendelson.

Today, along with my colleagues Councilmembers Brianne Nadeau, Elissa Silverman, Anita Bonds and Robert White, I am introducing the “Washington D.C. Preferred Terms Establishment Act of 2017.”

By way of history, the Home Rule movement began in earnest after World War II and Presidents Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy each supported home rule bills with a governor and legislature.

President Johnson ultimately initiated the terms Mayor and Council, possibly to mollify conservative opposition and under the Nixon administration, those terms remained.

As we continue the fight for statehood, it is my hope that this legislation will provide a tangible medium around which we can mobilize community advocates, organizers and residents and reinvigorate the movement as a whole.

The purpose of the legislation is to designate D.C. as Douglass Commonwealth and redefine the Mayor as Governor of Washington, D.C. Additionally, the bill renames this Council as the Legislative Assembly with a Speaker. Further, rather than Councilmembers, we would be referred to as Representatives of the Legislative Assembly.

The legislation further provides that within 30 days of the effective date of the act both the Mayor and the Council must adopt the preferred terms for use in the functions and activities of those respective offices. Finally, within 90 days of the effective date, the Mayor must submit to the Council for review, a plan implementing the preferred terms throughout the District.

Changing these names, of course will not make us a state. However, I believe changing them can move us closer toward statehood.

One of the major barriers to statehood is that many across the country view the District of Columbia as a city. To them, statehood seems like quite a leap but the change put forward in this legislation can help rectify that perception.

Adopting the terms Governor and Legislative Assembly will have the significant effect of giving the statehood movement new momentum. Most importantly, it will help build an expectation in the public mind of statehoods’ logic and inevitability.