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Council preserves independence and dedicated funding for arts and humanities in final action on FY2020 budget

For Immediate Release:
June 18, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Council preserves independence and dedicated funding for arts and humanities in final action on FY2020 budget

Washington, D.C. – The Council provided strong support for the arts and humanities today as it finalized the fiscal year 2020 budget with policy changes that preserve dedicated arts funding and improve the independence of the Commission on Arts and Humanities–both priorities for Councilmember David Grosso.

“The restoration of dedicated funding for the arts and humanities sends a strong signal that the Council is committed to a stable funding stream for our cultural institutions,” Grosso said. “It is especially important that we have provided a past due dedication to the humanities, which elevates the appreciation of our local history and culture.”

Last year, Councilmember Grosso worked with his colleagues to secure a dedicated funding stream for the arts and humanities in D.C.’s fiscal year 2019 budget. However, the mayor’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2020 repealed that dedication

“I am also excited about the restructuring of the Commission on Arts and Humanities that we passed today,” Grosso said. “These reforms will insulate the commission from political interference, ensure more equitable and reliable funding for the arts, and provide stability through the authorization of multi-year grants.”

“I appreciate Chairman Mendelson’s partnership in these efforts that put the arts and humanities on a path to become an even greater cultural force in the District of Columbia,” Grosso said. “I’m looking forward to where we go from here. I look forward to a productive hearing on the Cultural Plan and how we can work together over the coming months to focus on elevating arts education as a policy priority across the District of Columbia.”

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Statement of Councilmember Grosso on suspension of Springboard programs at D.C. schools

For Immediate Release:
June 12, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Statement of Councilmember Grosso on suspension of Springboard programs at D.C. schools

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, on the suspension of Springboard Education’s before- and after-care programs following a sexual abuse incident that involved a Springboard employee at Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan:

“I take very seriously the issue of sexual assault and abuse, especially against our students. Youth deserve a safe environment in which to learn and incidents like what happened at Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan violate their sense of security. We must redouble our efforts to prevent these violations. 

“That is why I recently introduced, passed, and fully funded the School Safety Omnibus Amendment Act. This law requires all schools to have policies in place to prevent and properly respond to sexual abuse by adults against children and sexual harassment and assault among students. The bill also increases the requirements of D.C. Public Schools, charter schools, and private schools to uncover past sexual misconduct of any potential employees who will have direct contact with students, including those who provide before- and after-care. Schools must also train staff, contractors, and volunteers on preventing, detecting, and reporting sexual abuse or misconduct. 

“In just the past year, several incidences of sexual assault—whether perpetrated by students or by adults against students—have occurred here in the District of Columbia, in traditional public, public charter, and private schools. It was upsetting enough to learn of these incidents, but in too many cases we also learned that the school’s response was inadequate.

“I want to commend DCPS for following the proper protocols and referring the situation to the Metropolitan Police Department when they were informed of the incident. I also applaud both DCPS and charter schools who have contracted with Springboard for acting swiftly to suspend their services. However, greater efforts must be made before employees ever step foot in our schools to guarantee that they do not intend to harm our students. I have further questions about how schools, and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education when appropriate, are ensuring that contractors like Springboard have conducted the proper screening of employees. This incident also shows the need for training and clear policies on detecting sexual abuse including red flags of potential violations.”

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Councilmember David Grosso re-introduces legislation to decriminalize sex work in D.C.

For Immediate Release: 
June 3, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Councilmember David Grosso re-introduces legislation to decriminalize sex work in D.C.

Washington, D.C. – With increased support from Council colleagues, Councilmember David Grosso today announced the re-introduction of legislation that would reduce violence and improve public health and safety by removing criminal penalties for consensual sexual exchange in the District of Columbia.

“It is long past time for D.C. to reconsider the framework in which we handle commercial sex—and move from one of criminalization to a new approach that focuses on human rights, health, and safety,” Grosso said at a press conference and rally held in support of the bill with the Sex Worker Advocates Coalition on Monday.

The Community Safety and Health Amendment Act of 2019 eliminates criminal prohibitions and penalties for consensual sex work and establishes a task force to evaluate the effects of removing criminal penalties and recommend further improvements to public safety, health, and human rights.

“By removing criminal penalties for those in the sex trade, we can bring people out of the shadows, help connect them to the services they need to live safer and healthier lives, and more easily tackle the complaints we hear from communities about trash or noise,” Grosso said.

Removing criminal penalties for engaging in sexual exchange reduces public violence and protects sex workers. People in the sex trade are safest when their work is not criminalized. It allows them to better screen clients, to negotiate safer sex practices, and to report incidents of trafficking or client and police violence.

“Decriminalizing sex work will make life easier not only for the people that complain about K Street, but also for the girls who are getting turned away from jobs, housing, health care, and more. Everyone needs to survive, and everyone needs to make money. If Sis has to turn to sex work so she can buy a room or so she can eat, don't send her to jail,” said Tiara Moten, Lead Organizer with No Justice No Pride.

Eighty percent of sex workers report experiencing some form of violence in the course of their work. This is especially true for sex workers from communities that already face increased discrimination such as immigrants, LGBTQ individuals, and individuals of color. Criminalization discourages sex workers from reporting these incidents.

“It is appropriate that we address this issue at the start of LGBTQ Pride month that commemorates the 50th anniversary of the riots at the Stonewall Inn. We know that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and especially transgender individuals engage in sex work at higher rates, making decriminalization of sex work an LGBTQ issue,” said Benjamin Brooks, Assistant Director for Policy at Whitman Walker Health. “Removing criminal penalties recognizes the dignity of the individual and removes key barriers to preventing HIV and improving health for our communities.”

"As a faith leader, a Black woman, and an advocate for abused and neglected children, at-risk youth, adjudicated youth, victims of domestic violence, women’s issues, and cancer patients I believe that Black women deserve to live free from violence and provide for themselves and their families. I support the decriminalization of sex work because criminalization only harms our communities and we must support and love one another not ostracize each other,” said Rev. Shirley Currie, associate minister at Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church.

Protections for minors and prohibitions against coercion, exploitation, and human trafficking already exists in D.C. law and remain untouched by Grosso’s bill.

“This legislation slightly differs from the previous version by leaving some language in the code making it crystal clear that coercion, exploitation, and human trafficking are not tolerated in D.C.,” Grosso said.

Grosso’s proposal now enjoys expanded support on the Council. Only Councilmember Robert White co-introduced the legislation back in 2017. This time, Councilmembers Anita Bonds and Brianne Nadeau have added their names.

Grosso developed the legislation in close partnership with the Sex Worker Advocates Coalition (SWAC), a coalition of more than nearly two dozen local and national organizations: HIPS, ACLU DC, GLAA, Collective Action for Safe Spaces, D.C. Rape Crisis Center, Amara Legal Center, National Center for Trans Equality, Whitman Walker Health, Casa Ruby, Best Practices Policy Project, SWOP-USA, Black Youth Project (BYP) 100, Black Lives Matter DMV, No Justice No Pride, D.C. Center for the LGBT Community, Bread for the City, Network for Victims Recovery DC, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Ultraviolet, Center for Health and Gender Equity, and URGE.

“I want to thank everyone who has contributed their voice to the development of this legislation, has endorsed its approach, or engaged with elected officials to build to the unprecedented level of support we see here today,” Grosso said. “ I also want to appreciate all the sex worker activists who have spoken out for their human rights, from Sharmus Outlaw here in D.C., to Gabriela Leite in Brazil, to countless others around the world.”

The bill will officially be re-introduced tomorrow, June 4, 2019 at the Council's regular legislative meeting. It will likely be referred to the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety.

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Councilmember Grosso seeks to protect medical marijuana patients from employment discrimination by D.C. government

For Immediate Release:
May 28, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Councilmember Grosso seeks to protect medical marijuana patients from employment discrimination by D.C. government

Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso today introduced legislation that would protect current or prospective District of Columbia government employees from discrimination based on their enrollment in medical marijuana programs.

“Medical marijuana is no different than any other prescription medication. Individuals who are using it to manage their personal medical conditions should not have to also worry that they will lose their job or not be hired,” Grosso said. “However, over the past several months I have heard in the press and from constituents that some D.C. agencies are willfully ignoring existing policy allowing for exceptions for these individuals.”

The D.C. Department of Human Resources specifically sets out an exception for government employees enrolled in medical marijuana programs in District Personnel Manual Instruction No. 4-34, similar to exceptions for other prescription drugs.

However, current and prospective employees of from several government agencies have reported treatment inconsistent with official policy.

The Medical Marijuana Program Patient Employee Protection Amendment Act of 2019 would enshrine in the law a prohibition against D.C. government agencies discriminating in employment against an individual for participation in the medical marijuana program.

“Unless there is a federal law or rule that requires it, D.C. government should not refuse to hire, fire, or penalize individuals for using medical marijuana, as long as they are not consuming on the job or showing up intoxicated."

Councilmember Grosso, himself a member of the District’s Medical Marijuana Program, has corresponded with DOC Director Quincy Booth since November 2018 to resolve this issue. Grosso, along with five of his colleagues, also sent a letter to the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Kevin Donahue seeking his intervention. Both efforts were unsuccessful.

“I have tried to work with the Department of Corrections to get this fixed, but it has now become necessary to legislate and immediately correct this inconsistency,” Grosso said. “To that end, I will also be moving this bill as emergency legislation at the next legislative meeting.”

Councilmembers Anita Bonds, Robert White, Brianne Nadeau, Mary Cheh, and Vincent Gray joined Councilmember Grosso as co-introducers of the legislation. Councilmembers Jack Evans, Kenyan McDuffie, and Charles Allen co-sponsored the bill.

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Comment

Councilmember Grosso’s priorities funded in final fiscal year 2020 budget

For Immediate Release: 
May 28, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Councilmember Grosso’s priorities funded in final fiscal year 2020 budget

Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, celebrated investments in his budget priorities included in the District of Columbia's fiscal year 2020 budget following today’s final approval by the D.C. Council.

“Putting our students in the best position to succeed requires a greater commitment to funding education. The Committee on Education was able to work with several other committees to increase per student and at-risk funding to better support our students’ needs and set them up for academic success,” said Grosso. “While we must continue to provide additional resources, I am proud of the budget we have passed today. It fully invests in the Committee on Education’s efforts over the past two years to reduce exclusionary discipline, combat sexual assault and abuse in our schools, and improve the academic success of our most vulnerable students.”

Education investment highlights include:

  • Increases per-student funding by 3%, including an increase in the weight for students at-risk of academic failure to 0.225.

  • Fully funds the Fair Access to School law to reduce the use of exclusionary discipline and address the root causes of student behavioral issues with $9 million more for school-based mental health services.

  • Fully funds School Safety Act to ensure schools are working to prevent and properly handle cases of sexual assault and abuse through better policies, improved hiring practices, and age-appropriate consent education.

  • Fully funds the creation of a multi-stakeholder Students in the Care of the District of Columbia Committee to identify challenges and resolve issues that students in detainment, commitment, incarceration, and foster care face in achieving academic success.

  • Promotes safe passage to increase student attendance with funding for a District Department of Transportation safe routes coordinator to work with schools.

  • Invests over $2 million in the successful early literacy intervention program that gets students at or above reading level by third grade.

  • Restores funding for St. Coletta of Greater Washington to support their work educating the District’s most vulnerable students. 

Grosso also succeeded in his fight to restore $53 million for the long-delayed modernization of Banneker Academic High School and relocate the school to the former Shaw Jr. High site on Rhode Island Avenue NW to ensure it would not face further delays.

“Today’s budget passage is a major victory for the Banneker community which has waited far too long for a school building that meets its academic needs. I’m proud of the students and community members who have advocated for their school. Their voices have had a tremendous impact and their modernization will now move forward in a timely manner,” Grosso said.

In addition to his work on the Education Committee, Councilmember Grosso secured or supported changes to the budget in the areas of health, public safety, human services, the arts and humanities, transportation, and good government:

  • Over $4 million increase to expand violence interruption teams to additional neighborhoods.

  • Initial funds to implement Grosso’s Medical Marijuana Patient Health and Accessibility Improvement Amendment Act of 2019 when it passes, specifically to set up facilities where medical marijuana patients can consume if they are not allowed to do so at their home.

  • Restores dedicated funding for arts and humanities grants and strengthens the independence of the Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

  • Fully funds public restrooms legislation to build two new public restrooms sites each year and give incentives to businesses downtown to make their restrooms available to the public.

  • Funds 60 new shelter beds, 50 new transitional housing slots, and 35 permanent supportive housing units to combat youth homelessness.

  • Invests in ending chronic homelessness for about 600 individuals through permanent supportive housing and targeted affordable housing and continues homeless outreach despite the end of a federal grant.

  • Combats family homelessness with 180 new units of permanent supportive housing and 200 new units of targeted affordable.

  • Reverses the mayor’s cut of about $500,000 Emergency Rental Assistance Program and further increases it by over $600,000.

  • Advances the design of the East Downtown protected bike lane project, for which Grosso has advocated.

  • Leaves out an inappropriate Freedom of Information Act amendment which would decrease government transparency and accountability.

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Comment

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Statement of Councilmember Grosso on latest federal government attacks on transgender communities

For Immediate Release: 
May 24, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Statement of Councilmember Grosso on latest federal government attacks on transgender communities

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, on the new proposals from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Department of Health and Human Services to roll back protections for transgender people accessing shelter and health care:

“The latest efforts by the federal government to retreat from its responsibility to protect everyone’s human rights are deeply upsetting. It is especially appalling that the Trump administration is proposing to repeal protections for transgender individuals on the eve of LGBT Pride Month, on the heels of the murders of three black transgender women, and one week after International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

“While the Trump administration wants to give a green light to shelters, housing programs, doctors and medical institutions to turn away transgender people, in D.C. the law will not change. Our local Human Rights Act explicitly protects our transgender, intersex, gender non-conforming, and non-binary residents, workers, and visitors from discrimination. It is critical that the D.C. government double down on its commitment to protect these community members from discrimination and get the word out that anti-transgender bias has no place in the District of Columbia.

“When I first learned of the possibility of rulemaking by the federal Department of Health and Human Services to redefine sex discrimination to explicitly exclude transgender protections, I introduced, and the Council unanimously passed, the Sense of the Council in Support of Transgender, Intersex, and Gender Non-Conforming Communities Resolution of 2018 last November. That resolution includes a requirement that the Secretary of the Council submit the resolution as official public comment on any relevant proposed rulemaking, on behalf of the Council of the District of Columbia. I will be following up to ensure that this happens.

“Even before this latest news, the transgender community of D.C. has been calling on the government to do more. One of those requests has been to stop arrests for commercial sex and to focus law enforcement efforts on ensuring the safety of sex workers and stopping exploitation or coercion. Next month I will be re-introducing legislation to that end.

“To the transgender communities of D.C. please know that you are loved and that the District stands with you.”

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Statement of Councilmember Grosso on CDC study regarding students who trade sex for survival needs

For Immediate Release: 
May 16, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Statement of Councilmember Grosso on CDC study regarding students who trade sex for survival needs

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, on a new analysis of Youth Risk Behavior Survey results that found 7.4 percent of D.C. high schoolers have exchanged sex for money, a place to stay, food or something else of value, as first reported by WAMU:

“Students turning to trading sex for survival needs is a stunning failure of the District of Columbia to aid the youth who need our support most. What is most frustrating is that we know these kids. We have the opportunity to help them every day when they step foot into our school buildings. Yet we do not meet them where they are with the services they need.

“How can we demand academic excellence from them and put them on the path to a successful future when they do not know where they will rest their head that night or where their next meal is coming from? The study also notes that these students are at a greater risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. If these students do not have access to food and shelter, it's unlikely they have regular access to medical treatment.

“Compounding these disadvantages, D.C. continues to take a failed law enforcement approach to the sex trade. While I helped end the prosecution of minors involved in commercial sex in 2014, they are still subject to arrest. Adults are still fully criminalized, even though these conditions of poverty do not change when someone turns 18. Criminalizing those who engage in sex work directly undercuts their efforts to leave behind homelessness or hunger, while exposing them to greater physical and health risks. Arrest records become a barrier to other income sources or opportunities, leaving them with fewer options than before. It’s a trap.

“Despite this upsetting state of affairs, I believe we continue to make progress. We have included more money in this year’s budget to support homeless youth and provide greater access to food. I have been meeting with education leaders to address our rising HIV and STI rates among youth through comprehensive sexual education and reproductive health resources in schools.

“However, to say ‘We need to do more’ is a gross understatement. We need to provide additional social, behavioral, and physical health supports in our schools, policies I have pursued during my time as chairperson of the Committee on Education. It’s also time for a new approach to how D.C. handles sex trade, from one of criminalization to one that is focused on health and safety.”

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Councilmember Grosso introduces progressive property tax to fund equitable public investments

For Immediate Release: 
May 13, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Councilmember Grosso introduces progressive property tax to fund equitable public investments

Washington, D.C. – Today Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, introduced legislation to generate new revenue for the District of Columbia’s budget priorities with a progressive tax on high-value properties.

“D.C. has experienced tremendous economic growth in the past decade, but not everyone has shared in that prosperity,” said Grosso. “Instead, the income and wealth gap has widened in that period and is starkest along racial lines.”

The wealthiest 20 percent of households in D.C. make 7.5 times as much income annually compared to the poorest 20 percent. The average wealth of white households is now 81 times that of the average Black household.

“Every budget cycle, investments in educating our students, ending homelessness, and preventing violence in our communities fall short. A high-value property tax would address racial inequity by raising resources from those most well off to fund public investments to lift up those who have been left behind,” said Grosso.

Currently, residential property is taxed at 85 cents per $100 of value, prior to deductions for principal residences and for senior citizens. The Residential Real Property Taxes Equitable Alignment Act of 2019 would create two additional marginal rates for high-valued properties, taxing $1.25 for every $100 of value over $1.5 million and $1.50 for every $100 in value over $5 million.

“The richest 1 percent of D.C. households pay less in property taxes as a share of family income than households at any other income range–just 1.7 percent compared to 3.6 percent for our lowest income families. My proposal makes our property tax structure more equitable by increasing the rates on those at the top,” said Grosso.

Grosso originally planned to offer the legislation as a budget amendment but decided to introduce it as a standalone bill to continue the public conversation.

“I appreciate the public engagement I have received on this issue since I first raised it as part of the Council’s budget working session last week. I have made changes to the original proposal based on that input, but believe we need to consider additional revenue streams to aid those who have not reaped the benefits of our city’s economic growth. I hope the public continues to share their thoughts through the traditional legislative process on this measure and other options for raising revenue.”

Councilmember Brianne Nadeau joined Grosso as a co-introducer of the legislation.

The legislation will likely be referred to the Committee on Finance and Revenue, chaired by Councilmember Jack Evans.

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Councilmember Grosso introduces legislation to improve pedestrian safety with extended curbs

For Immediate Release: 
May 7, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Councilmember Grosso introduces legislation to improve pedestrian safety with extended curbs

Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso today introduced legislation that would increase pedestrian safety at crosswalks by requiring curb extensions as part of any future District Department of Transportation road improvements.

“All road users, especially pedestrians, are incredibly vulnerable at intersections,” Grosso said. “Unfortunately, we are reminded of this too often with the deaths of pedestrians in crosswalks, like Monica Adams Carlson and Cora Louise Adams last year just a few blocks away from here on Pennsylvania Avenue.”

The Curb Extensions Act of 2019 would target intersections for improvement by forcing DDOT to extend the curbs whenever it performs road reconstruction or repaving work.

Curb extensions lengthen the curb to align with parking lanes and reduce the amount of time pedestrians spend in the crosswalk.

“Curb extensions make pedestrians safer. Pedestrians are more visible to drivers, crossing times are shortened, and vehicles are forced to slow down at intersections,” said Grosso. “As an added benefit, it also expands opportunities to beautify our streets and expand our urban tree canopy with additional greenery.”

“Meeting the District of Columbia’s Vision Zero goal of eliminating serious injuries and deaths on our roads means shifting the culture of DDOT to focus on the safety of all modes of transportation, not just cars,” Grosso said. “This will never happen as long as we continually rebuild our dangerous intersections in their same, unsafe configurations.”

Councilmembers Anita Bonds, Elissa Silverman, Brianne Nadeau, Mary Cheh, Brandon Todd, and Charles Allen joined Grosso as co-introducers of the legislation.

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Education Committee increases investments in students and fully funds discipline, school safety laws in budget recommendations

For Immediate Release: 
May 2, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Education Committee increases investments in students and fully funds discipline, school safety laws in budget recommendations

Washington, D.C. – The Committee on Education, under the leadership of Councilmember David Grosso, unanimously approved budget and policy recommendations that increase per student and at-risk funding over the mayor’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2020.

“Putting our students in the best position to succeed requires a greater commitment to funding education. Despite her contention that it represents ‘historic’ investments, the mayor proposed a budget that does not keep up with the rising costs of educating our students,” Grosso said. “The Committee on Education, however, was able to work with several other committees to increase per student and at-risk funding to better support our students needs and set them up for academic success.”

This increased investment allows for full implementation of three laws that Grosso introduced and the Council passed unanimously in 2018: the Student Fair Access to School Act, the School Safety Omnibus Act, and the Students in the Care of D.C. Coordinating Committee Act.

“I’m proud of the budget we passed today. It fully invests in the Committee on Education’s efforts over the past two years to reduce exclusionary discipline, combat sexual assault and abuse in our schools, and improve the academic success of our most vulnerable students,” Grosso said.

Despite the increased resources for D.C. schools, Grosso believes greater investments are necessary to make up for where the mayor’s budget falls short.

“The budget recommendations approved today are only the beginning. I will work with Chairman Mendelson and my colleagues as the budget makes its way through the Committee of the Whole and the full Council to further bolster the resources going to our schools.”

The Committee on Education received an unprecedented amount of public input during the performance and budget oversight process this year. Since the mayor released her FY2020 budget proposal in late March, the committee held approximately 23 hours of hearings, heard from nearly 300 witnesses and received over 1,000 pages of written testimony.

“I want to thank every single member of the public for engaging with the Committee on Education on a multitude of funding issues ranging from school buildings to mental health supports to the per student funding formula,” Grosso said. “Your involvement holds us accountable and ensures that we make fiscally responsible and equitable decisions for our students and schools.”

Investment Highlights

  • Protects students’ right to an education - Fully funds implementation of the Student Fair Access to School Act with an increase in at-risk funding to support schools in addressing the root causes of behavioral issues, provide mental health supports to our students, and reduce the use of exclusionary discipline practices. Made possible with support from Councilmembers Vincent Gray and Kenyan McDuffie.

  • Addresses and prevents sexual assault and abuse in schools - Fully funds the School Safety Omnibus Act to ensure schools are working to prevent and properly handle cases of sexual assault and abuse through better policies, improved hiring practices, and age-appropriate consent education. Made possible with support from Councilmembers Elissa Silverman, Charles Allen, and Brandon Todd.

  • Improves educational outcomes for our most vulnerable youth - Fully funds the creation of a multi-stakeholder Students in the Care of the District of Columbia Committee to identify challenges and resolve issues that students in detainment, commitment, incarceration, and foster care face in achieving academic success. Made possible with support from Councilmember Trayon White.

  • Promotes safe passage to increase student attendance - Transferred funds to the Committee on Transportation and the Environment for the District Department of Transportation to coordinate with schools and communities to plan safe routes to and from school for all modes of travel.

  • Invests in a world-class central library on opening day - Provides additional investments in necessary technology and maintenance to ensure that the newly modernized Martin Luther King, Jr. Central Library is fully functional when it re-opens in 2020.

Policy Recommendation Highlights

  • Directs D.C. Public Schools to research and identify alternatives to the current school budgeting method to create a model that gives schools the opportunity to thrive and address their specific needs.

  • Recommends that DCPS seek public input on and fast-track its plan to support and expand dual language immersion programs.

  • Directs the Office of the State Superintendent for Education implement the Healthy Schools Act to ensure comprehensive HIV education in all public schools, following a report that young people aged 13 to 29 made up the highest percentage of new HIV cases in a decade.

  • Directs OSSE to support the District of Columbia Education Research Collaborative by improving access to MySchoolDC and Common Lottery data.

  • Recommends that the Deputy Mayor for Education focus on improving student attendance by collaborating with DDOT to analyze student transportation times, options, and routes for students who regularly miss school.

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Comment

Pending racial equity legislation must include requirements for D.C. Council

For Immediate Release: 
April 25, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Pending racial equity legislation must include requirements for D.C. Council

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso, a member of the Committee on Government Operations, on today’s committee hearing on B23-38, the Racial Equity Achieves Results Amendment Act of 2019:

“In recent years, the word ‘equity’ has become trendy—but it is so much more than a buzzword. It is a recognition that we do not all start at the same place. Equity recognizes that persistent disparities faced by those who start furthest behind or face additional barriers will not be solved without targeting opportunities, resources, and supports to those individuals.

“We must directly name and work to address racial disparities so that one's racial identity is not a predictor of their educational, health, economic or other outcomes. As chairperson of the Committee on Education for the past 4 years, I have seen how explicit and implicit biases have affected our students of color and their academic success. The achievement gap between these students and their white peers has persisted and we will not narrow it until we fully approach our policies through an equity framework. Not only in education but in housing, in our health system, in workforce development and business—it is imperative that we do more to recognize the historical legacy and persistence of racist systems, policies and institutions.

“I want to thank Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie for his leadership on and commitment to addressing racial equity issues. Earlier this year I was excited to participate in a symposium he convened on this topic and later enthusiastically joined him as a co-introducer of the Racial Equity Achieves Results Amendment Act of 2019, which is receiving a public hearing before the Committee on Government Operations today. The District of Columbia Government is long overdue for this conversation and even longer overdue for action.

“The changes the bill makes to executive branch operations are necessary. Requiring that employees of the Mayor and her agencies undergo racial equity training and that agencies apply a racial equity framework when implementing policies and assessing performance will create a government that better serves the needs of all its constituents.

"Part of our government is the Council, which is not covered under the requirements included in this legislation. As a co-equal branch of government, the Council’s actions have a profound impact on our residents. Our work to fund District services through the annual budget, hold agencies accountable for meeting residents’ needs, and propose and debate solutions to our constituents’ concerns should also be subjected to the same standards we seek to impose on the executive. I fear it will be too easy to reverse, intentionally or unintentionally, the positive outcomes this legislation would produce if we do not implement our own racial equity framework and require councilmembers and staff to participate in ongoing racial equity training.

“The work certainly will not be easy but it is absolutely necessary. I look forward to working with my colleagues as we improve and advance this legislation to bring about meaningful change to how our government serves our residents.”

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Comment

1 Comment

Statement of Councilmember David Grosso on pedestrian and cyclist deaths over the weekend

For Immediate Release: 
April 23, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Statement of Councilmember David Grosso on pedestrian and cyclist deaths over the weekend

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso on the deaths that occurred on the District of Columbia’s streets over the past weekend:

“This weekend two more people were killed on our streets by speeding cars: Dave Salovesh, while biking on Florida Avenue NE, and Abdul Seck, while walking in Anacostia. I am deeply saddened by these deaths, and my heart goes out to their families and friends. But as an elected official, my thoughts focus on how our local government could better prevent these deaths.

“Mr. Seck was visiting our city from New York, and, like fellow tourists Monica Adams Carlson and Cora Louise Adams who were killed on our streets in December, was a pedestrian. Mr. Salovesh was a long-time advocate for safe streets in our city, and I encountered him often over the years. He was passionate and persistent, but the Mayor and the District Department of Transportation have not listened to his pleas.

“The simple fact is cars are killing us. Since I joined the Council in 2013, we have passed laws and budgets that we believed gave DDOT the necessary tools to create a multimodal transportation network with safe sidewalks and protected bike lanes. The failure to actually complete these improvements is a result of many missed opportunities and deadlines. It’s no surprise to see we are no closer to our Vision Zero goals, especially when we consider that too much emphasis is placed on accommodating the needs of drivers. We need to shift our focus to building streets that cater to all modes of transportation and protect the well-being of our vulnerable pedestrians and cyclists.

“Prioritizing automobiles creates a disastrous cycle for safety. Not only are our current bikers and pedestrians less safe, but potential cyclists and pedestrians opt for riding in cars due to safety concerns. Those additional cars then, in turn, make it even more dangerous for people to walk and bike in our city.

“We need to do more. Dave Salovesh had some ideas, like creating a continuous network of protected bike lanes. We could start there.

“At today's Committee of the Whole meeting, I joined Councilmember Mary Cheh as a co-introducer of her Mandatory Protected Cycling Lane Amendment Act of 2019 to accelerate the construction of protected bike lanes on our streets. I also joined Councilmember Charles Allen to co-introduce emergency legislation to improve safety for pedestrians and bikers by forcing DDOT to complete the Florida Avenue Multimodal Project.

“I will continue to work with my colleagues on whatever new laws and budget language we need to change the status quo in how we design, build and maintain our roadways. It simply should not be physically possible to go so fast on our streets that people can be so easily killed by cars. This means narrowing our roads and intersections and using that newly freed up space for wider sidewalks, bike lanes, plazas, and more.

“Our city has no excuse for the deaths of Dave Salovesh and Abdul Seck. These were not simply tragic accidents, but the inevitable result of prioritizing the speed and convenience of cars by failing to narrow our roads, paint our crosswalks, install stop signs, and make other changes to allow our residents and visitors to safely travel in our city.”

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First-ever cultural plan is a first step to fully supporting D.C.’s creative sector

For Immediate Release: 
April 5, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

First-ever cultural plan is a first step to fully supporting D.C.’s creative sector

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso on the release of the D.C. Cultural Plan:

“After nearly 4 years, I am excited to finally see the release of the District of Columbia’s very first Cultural Plan. The plan provides an assessment of the current state of our city’s creative sector, identifies gaps, and proposes recommendations to more fully embrace the arts and humanities and acknowledge their vital role as a major economic driver through greater financial, policy, and community supports.

“This is such an important moment for the creative community, our residents, and visitors to the District of Columbia–all of whom benefit when we promote and support cultural development in D.C. When I directed the investment in the FY2016 budget to make this plan a reality, it was my hope that it would enable the city to identify the current level of service for cultural groups in each neighborhood; detail the feedback from community outreach; establish a strategy to meet the specified needs of each community; quantify the economic impact of arts, humanities, and culture; and ultimately put forth a targeted approach to increase cultural activity citywide.

“I appreciate the work of the Office of Planning, the Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and most importantly, the engagement of D.C.’s creative community, especially ArtsAction DC, in the development of this plan. A plan, however, is nothing without action and proper investment. I look forward to working with all stakeholders to support the growth and development of our creative sector and deepen its immense contributions to the District’s economy and rich cultural fabric.”

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Grosso revives efforts to reform constituent service funds

For Immediate Release: 
April 2, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Grosso revives efforts to reform constituent service funds

Washington, D.C. – Often misused constituent service funds could see radical change aimed at improving the provision of assistance to constituents and reducing the influence of private donors under new legislation introduced by Councilmember David Grosso today.

Constituent service funds allow elected officials in the District of Columbia to raise money from private donors and provide emergency assistance to residents when a financial need arises.

However, a recent report from the non-profit Public Citizen entitled Misused, Inequitable and Ethically Fraught found that, in the last seven years, only a quarter of expenditures from constituent service funds have been used to meet the immediate needs of D.C. residents.

Rather than using funds to help residents pay bills, buy groceries, or make funeral arrangements, some elected officials have purchased items like sports tickets and branded t-shirts or calendars.

“Worse than what these funds are misused for is where the money comes from. Private donations­–from those seeking business with D.C. government or campaign funders who have reached their contribution limits–raise the specter of pay-to-play politics,” said Grosso, who does not maintain a constituent service fund because of the ethical challenges they present.

The Constituent Service Fund Reform Amendment Act of 2019 establishes a central, publicly-funded constituent service fund for the Mayor, Attorney General, and the members of the Council, providing each the ability to direct up to $40,000 annually for immediate constituent needs.

The legislation also adds new limits on constituent service funds expenditures, specifically prohibiting questionable perks like sports tickets and branded advertising, and empowers the Chief Financial Officer to administer the program and approve expenditures.

“The bill I introduced today would allow us to both meet the immediate needs of constituents while also removing the undue influence of monied interests in this important work,” Grosso said.

It further prohibits private donations or transfers from unused funds campaign, transition, inaugural and legal defense accounts to constituent service funds.

“This legislation builds on the work undertaken in recent years to put our ethical house in order, continuing us down the road that both the Fair Elections and Campaign Finance Reform Amendment Acts have set us on to win back the public’s trust in our work,” Grosso said.

Councilmembers Charles Allen, Elissa Silverman, Brianne Nadeau, and Robert White joined Grosso as co-introducers of the bill.

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Grosso proposes greater local control and transparency in school budgeting

For Immediate Release: 
April 2, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Grosso proposes greater local control and transparency in school budgeting

Washington, D.C. – Today Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, introduced legislation to improve how education investments in D.C. Public Schools serve students and provide the public with greater information on how taxpayer dollars are expended in both traditional public and public charter schools in the District of Columbia.

“Over the past several years, there has been significant confusion around funding for both DCPS and charter schools,” Grosso said. “This has raised many questions from the public and elected officials about annual school funding cuts and increased calls for more transparency from both sectors. The School Based Budgeting and Transparency Act of 2019 seeks to provide the public and policymakers a more transparent way to digest and engage with how the District of Columbia funds schools.”

The legislation requires DCPS to use a school-based budgeting model, as opposed to the comprehensive staffing model, to fund schools and submit that to the D.C. Council.

“Communities and individual school leaders know how best to meet the needs of their students,” Grosso said. “This bill would allow principals to have more autonomy of their local dollars and the ability to build their budgets based on their students’ needs, rather than the adults that Central Office dictates schools must hire.”

The bill also requires greater transparency from D.C. public charter schools by subjecting them to the requirements of the D.C. Open Meetings Act and requiring the Public Charter School Board to publish both charter school budgets and school expenditures–including a delineation of how at-risk funds are being spent at each school. Currently, only school budgets are published.

Finally, the bill requires that the Office of the State Superintendent of Education publish school budget expenditure information in a way that ensures the public can compare expenditures by local education agencies and schools in a clear manner.

“These provisions give the public clear information and finally allows us to see across all schools how tax dollars are being spent,” Grosso said. “By no means is this the panacea to solve all of the problems around school budgets that the Council and the public have identified. I believe this starts the conversation,” Grosso said.

Chairman Phil Mendelson, along with every member of the Council, joined Grosso as co-introducers of the legislation.

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Breweries, distilleries, cideries, and wineries could expand into taverns under Grosso proposal

For Immediate Release: 
March 20, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Breweries, distilleries, cideries, and wineries could expand into taverns under Grosso proposal

Washington, D.C. – Homegrown breweries, distilleries, cideries, and wineries would have greater freedom to open up additional taverns in the District of Columbia under legislation proposed by Councilmember David Grosso earlier this week.

“In the past decade, the District of Columbia has developed a thriving industry of breweries, distilleries, cideries, and wineries, which have supported hundreds of local jobs” said Grosso.

However, although they can all currently sell alcohol and food at their production facilities, they are prohibited from owning a separate tavern elsewhere in the District.

Grosso says these outdated laws, a relic of post-Prohibition regulations, disadvantage D.C. businesses.

“These ownership restrictions only apply to District of Columbia breweries, distilleries, cideries, and wineries, but there is nothing to stop a similar out-of-town business from opening up their own taverns here in D.C. Our own small businesses can now be on equal footing.”

The Manufacturer's Satellite Taverns Amendment Act of 2019 would allow local brewers and distillers to own and operate up to two satellite taverns elsewhere in the city that would primarily sell products that they manufacture themselves.

Locally grown businesses could continue to operate tasting rooms and restaurants at their brewing and distilling locations, but this would eliminate the need for complicated ownership structures to also operate a stand-alone tavern elsewhere.

“Our city is a better place because of our home-grown businesses and this bill will help to support their continued growth in the District of Columbia,” said Grosso.

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Grosso re-introduces bill to end discrimination against people experiencing homelessness

For Immediate Release: 
March 19, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Grosso re-introduces bill to end discrimination against people experiencing homelessness

Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) re-introduced legislation today to end discrimination against people experiencing homelessness in the District of Columbia.

“Discrimination against people experiencing homelessness perpetuates the very problem of homelessness,” Grosso said.  “If we want to put people on the path to stable housing, we must end discrimination that creates another barrier in the way of people seeking to improve their situation.”

The Michael A. Stoops Anti-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2019 amends the Human Rights Act of 1977 to add homelessness as a protected class to help eradicate discrimination for individuals experiencing homelessness in employment, in places of public accommodation, in educational institutions, in public service, and in housing and commercial space.

The legislation is named to honor the life and legacy of Michael A. Stoops, a long-time advocate for the rights of individuals experiencing homelessness and a tireless warrior for overcoming income inequality. He helped found the NCH, protested to pressure Congress to pass federal legislation to combat homelessness, and co-founded the North American Street Newspaper Association, which helps to support our own local newspaper, Street Sense.

Grosso first introduced the legislation in 2017. Councilmembers Robert White, Brianne Nadeau, Mary Cheh, and Brandon Todd joined Grosso as co-introducers.

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Grosso introduces bill to develop technology roadmap for D.C. Public Schools

For Immediate Release:
March 19, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso introduces bill to develop technology roadmap for D.C. Public Schools

Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, today introduced legislation to create a technology roadmap for D.C. Public Schools which will improve access to educational technology for students and create a framework to maintain and update technology into the future.

“Last summer, I heard from students at my youth-led education town halls who shared that the access to adequate technology in their schools was a major hindrance to their academic pursuits,” Grosso said. “Slow and outdated computers, laptops missing keys, spotty Wi-Fi, and students forced to share devices are just a few of the complaints students have voiced and advocates with Digital Equity in DC Education have raised. In 2019, this is unacceptable.”

A Michigan State University study published in 2016 found that improved access to technology had a statistically significant positive impact on student test scores in English/language arts, writing, math, and science.

The D.C. Public Schools Student Technology Equity Act of 2019 requires the mayor to periodically convene a steering committee of DCPS, the Chief Technology Officer, educational stakeholders, and information technology experts to assess the current state of education technology in DCPS, identify gaps, and develop the Comprehensive Student Technology Equity Plan–a roadmap to ensure there is one device per student in grades 3-12 in the next 5 years.

“While D.C. Public Schools has made a great first step with recently announced investments in technology for critical grades, a comprehensive multi-year technology plan and a strategy to maintain and update this education technology in DCPS is necessary,” said Grosso.

Councilmembers Charles Allen, Robert White, Elissa Silverman, Mary Cheh, Brianne Nadeau, Vincent Gray, and Anita Bonds joined Grosso as co-introducers of the legislation.

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Councilmember Grosso remains committed to a special Council investigation of Councilmember Evans’ behavior

For Immediate Release:
March 5, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Councilmember Grosso remains committed to a special Council investigation of Councilmember Evans’ behavior

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement by Councilmember David Grosso on Chairman Phil Mendelson's proposed reprimand of Councilmember Jack Evans:

"Chairman Mendelson’s proposed reprimand of Councilmember Evans is merely a slap on the wrist, allowing the Council to check a box and move on. It stops short of any real accountability as Councilmember Evans will remain at the helm of the powerful Finance and Revenue Committee from which he peddled his influence using the prestige of his office. Additionally, he remains on the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety, which has oversight of the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability. True consequences for his behavior should necessitate the reorganization of the current committee structure.

"Based on media reports over the past year, this does not appear to be an isolated incident, but rather a pattern of behavior. While I appreciate the role of the press in bringing Councilmember Evans’ actions to light, it is incumbent upon the Council to conduct its own investigation into the extent to which our colleague has violated our Code of Conduct, policies, and laws and ensure public trust in the work of this body.

“If we solely rely on the press as our investigative branch, we could be back here in a few weeks voting on another reprimand, and then another. A full Council investigation by an ad hoc committee appointed by the Chairman will provide a thorough accounting and then allow the Council to weigh its full options to hold Councilmember Evans accountable."

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Grosso expands proposal to promote retail equity for the underbanked

For Immediate Release:
February 5, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso expands proposal to promote retail equity for the underbanked

Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso today re-introduced legislation to promote equity at local businesses and combat the trend towards cashless retail, a discriminatory practice that excludes District of Columbia residents who do not have a credit or debit card.

The Cashless Retailers Prohibition Act of 2019 requires retail establishments operating in the District of Columbia to accept cash as a form of payment. Further, it prohibits discrimination against anyone who chooses to use cash as a form of payment, such as charging different prices.

“By denying patrons the ability to use cash as a form of payment, businesses are effectively telling lower-income and young patrons that they are not welcome,” Grosso said. “Practices like this further stratify our diverse city when we should be working to foster greater inclusion.”

One in ten residents in the District of Columbia has no bank. An additional one in four are underbanked and therefore may not have access to a debit or credit card.  

“Through this bill, we can ensure that all D.C. residents and visitors can continue to patronize the businesses they choose while avoiding the potential embarrassment of being denied service simply because they lack a credit card,” Grosso said.

Grosso originally introduced the legislation last year, but that version only required food establishments to accept cash. The version introduced today expands the requirement to accept cash to all in-person retail establishments.
Last week, the New Jersey state legislature overwhelmingly passed similar legislation prohibiting cashless retail.

Grosso has also been focused on how the trend toward cashless payment is impacting city services. In December, he sent a letter to City Administrator Rashad Young requesting a full accounting of which D.C. government agencies accept money from the public, for what services, and, of those, which cannot be paid in cash. Additionally, he has been monitoring the impact of the cashless 79 express bus route pilot program which could worsen commuting options for riders with disabilities or lower income residents.

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