Viewing entries tagged
equity

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.”

###

Comment

Comment

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.

###

Comment

Comment

District of Columbia Public Schools Student Technology Equity Act of 2019

District of Columbia Public Schools Student Technology Equity Act of 2019

Introduced: March 19, 2019

Co-introducers: Councilmembers Charles Allen, Robert White, Elissa Silverman, Mary Cheh, Brianne Nadeau, Vincent Gray, and Anita Bonds

BILL TEXT | PRESS RELEASE

Summary: To require the development of a comprehensive multi-year student technology plan for the District of Columbia Public Schools that achieves a one-to-one device-to-student ratio for grades 3-12 and provides for the adequate repairing, maintaining, and updating of information technology in schools.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Along with Councilmembers Charles Allen, Robert White, Elissa Silverman, Mary Cheh, Brianne Nadeau, Vincent Gray, and Anita Bonds, I am introducing the District of Columbia Public Schools Student Technology Equity Act of 2019.

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 hinderance to their academic pursuits.

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.

In 2019, this is unacceptable.

Studies have shown that adequate access to technology has a positive impact on student test scores and imparts modern skills they will need to fully participate in a 21st century economy.

Up-to-date and ample technology in our schools would also improve their ability to seamlessly administer annual standardized testing, which has presented logistical challenges in years past.

The DCPS 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.

The steering committee will be responsible for engaging the public, assessing the current state of education technology, identifying gaps in student fluency, and determining the adequacy of information technology support for each DCPS school.

This needs assessment will form the basis of a Comprehensive Student Technology Equity Plan that will lay out a road map to ensure there is one device per student in grades 3-12 in the next 5 years.

It will also include a framework to maintain and update technology in our schools and recommendations on how to close the gaps in student technology fluency.

At the end of February 2019, DCPS released a budget that would invest $4.6 million in technology for FY20 and provide a three-to-one technology device ratio for all students and a one-to-one ratio in grades 3, 6, and 9 in SY2019-2020.

While this is a great first step, a comprehensive, multi year technology plan and a strategy to maintain and update this education technology in DCPS is necessary.

In closing, I want to thank student leaders who participated in my town halls for raising their concerns last year and Digital Equity in DC Education for their continued advocacy for improving technology in our schools.

Comment

Comment

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.

###

Comment

Comment

Cashless Retailers Prohibition Act of 2019

Cashless Retailers Prohibition Act of 2019

Introduced: February 5, 2019

Co-introducers: Chairman Phil Mendelson, Councilmembers Anita Bonds, Brianne Nadeau, Vincent Gray, and Trayon White. 

BILL TEXT | PRESS RELEASE

Summary: To amend Title 28 of the District of Columbia Official Code to prohibit retail establishments from discriminating against cash as a form of payment, and to provide for enforcement of this requirement.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Thank you Chairman Mendelson.

Today, along with my colleagues Chairman Mendelson and Councilmembers Bonds, Nadeau, Trayon White, and Gray, I am introducing the Cashless Retailers Prohibition Act of 2019.

Last year, I introduced similar legislation along with many of my colleagues.  This new proposal expands the cashless prohibition to include all retail establishments, instead of only those establishments that sell food.

Several local businesses have recently implemented new policies to ban the use of cash as a form of payment.

This has been a nationwide trend, backed in some instances by credit card companies like Visa, which have provided short-term funding to businesses that agree to stop accepting cash from their customers.

This practice requires that patrons have a credit card in order to purchase a salad at Sweetgreen, frozen yogurt at Menchie’s, or a sandwich at Jetties.

Banning the use of cash is a discriminatory practice that disproportionately impacts the 10% of DC residents who are unbanked, and an additional 25% of residents who are underbanked and may not have access to a credit card.

In addition, this practice is discriminatory against youth, who are often unable to obtain a credit card, impacting many of our middle school and high school students.

 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.

 These are customers who could otherwise afford the simple luxury of a glazed treat from District Doughnut in Union Market, though they may not have the ability to obtain a credit card.

In addition to the disparate impact on low-income and young patrons, this practice effects other customers who may prefer to pay with cash to better manage their budget, or to avoid the very real risk of identity theft that comes along with credit card use.

 Through this bill, we can ensure that all DC 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.

 Thank you and I welcome any co-sponsors.

Comment

Comment

New hope for Grosso’s bill to legalize marijuana sales in D.C.

For Immediate Release:
January 8, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.286.1987 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

New hope for Grosso’s bill to legalize marijuana sales in D.C.

Washington, D.C. – With control of Congress changing hands, Councilmember David Grosso’s legislation to legalize, tax, and regulate the sale of marijuana in the District of Columbia–reintroduced today–may have new hope.

“Since D.C. voters approved Initiative 71 to decriminalize recreational marijuana we have seen marijuana-related arrests plummet, representing thousands of District residents who were spared needless involvement in the judicial system,” Grosso said. “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 regulatory system.”

In the newest version of the Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act, Grosso included new provisions intended to remedy the wrongs of the misguided, racist War on Drugs.

“The War on Drugs was a failure—it was increasing our mass incarceration problem and not helping with our drug dependency problem. Further, the data also has consistently shown that the War on Drugs has been racist in its implementation,” said Grosso. “It’s a racial justice issue. It’s not enough that we change these policies, we also have to proactively heal the communities most negatively impacted.”

The bill allocates a portion of the funds from the taxes on marijuana to: drug abuse services and prevention efforts; supporting long-term, African-American, formerly incarcerated, and other residents affected by criminalization of marijuana to own or work at these businesses; and giving grants to communities impacted most by criminalization. It would also automatically expunge criminal records solely involving marijuana.

Ten states have legalized the sale of marijuana. The District was prohibited from using local tax dollars to establish a tax and regulate scheme by Congress, which has attached a provision in federal budgets since 2014 that has left D.C. in limbo on recreational marijuana.

“This status quo has led to a confusing and problematic state of affairs with residents and businesses unclear on what is legal, what is not, and wondering how it can be that it is legal to possess marijuana but not to buy or sell it. We need to fix this,” Grosso said.

Grosso has introduced a form of this legislation in every Council Period since 2013. This time, however Democrats control the House of Representatives, where the rider on federal budgets has always originated.

“The new reality on Capitol Hill means that chances of D.C. legalizing marijuana sales are greater than ever,” Grosso said.

At-Large Councilmembers Anita Bonds and Robert White, and Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, signed on as co-introducers of the legislation.

###

Comment

Comment

Grosso re-introduces bill to modernize sealing of criminal records

For Immediate Release:
January 8, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.286.1987 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso re-introduces bill to modernize sealing of criminal records

Washington, D.C. – Today, Councilmember David Grosso re-introduced legislation that would overhaul the way that the District of Columbia handles records of arrests, charges, and convictions in D.C. to support reintegrating people with such records into the community.

“We have begun to move away from using criminal penalties as the solution to social issues, we are seeking to undo the discriminatory policies of the War on Drugs, and we are seeking to support people who go to jail or prison to be successful upon their return to the community,” Grosso said. “One significant barrier to successful reentry is a criminal record.”

The Record Sealing and Modernization Amendment Act of 2019 establishes a process for expungement of records, qualifies certain records for expungement, and allows for automatic expungement or sealing of records in certain cases. Additionally, it expands the number offenses eligible for sealing to include all misdemeanors and most felonies and allows for sealing of multiple convictions (FACT SHEET).

A report from the Center for Court Excellence released in 2016 noted that the burden of criminal records falls almost exclusively on black residents—96% of people sentenced to prison in D.C. are black.

That same report called on the Council to reform the criminal records sealing process.

“It is time for us to recognize that making criminal records available does little to improve public safety and directly harms the individuals concerned, in fact hampering their ability to leave behind involvement in criminal activity,” said Grosso. “The negative impacts of criminal records harm tens of thousands of residents of our city, as do the decades of discriminatory criminal justice policies and practices, disproportionately affecting African Americans. We have an obligation to confront it and seek bold remedies.”

Research published by the Urban Institute last year found criminal record was a direct barrier to gaining employment, even as having a job is the most important factor in helping returning citizens to avoid recidivism.

Nationally, there is a bipartisan policy trend that acknowledges the unfair premise of visible criminal records and the relationship between criminal records and recidivism. In the past several years, 21 states have passed laws that expand opportunities for sealing or expunging records.

“This bill would put us at the forefront of restoring people after an arrest and trial or the conclusion of a criminal sentence,” Grosso said.

Originally introduced in 2017, Grosso’s bill received a hearing along with similar proposals introduced by the mayor and other councilmembers.

"I was extremely encouraged by the broad agreement heard at the 2017 hearing that improvements can be made to the way D.C. handles the sealing of criminal records,” Grosso said. “It demonstrated the strong will within both branches to move forward with reforms that will remove barriers to successful reentry for our residents with criminal records.”

Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, chairperson of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, At-Large Councilmember Anita Bonds, and Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White joined Grosso as co-introducers.

“It is my hope that the Record Sealing Modernization Amendment Act of 2019 can help fulfill the promise to returning citizens—or even people who are arrested and nothing ever comes of it—that we support them and will not judge them forever for past mistakes,” Grosso said.

###

Comment

Comment

Grosso seeks to prevent special taxpayer funding of new football stadium

For Immediate Release:
January 7, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.286.1987 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso seeks to prevent special taxpayer funding of new football stadium

Washington, D.C. – In advance of the Council’s first legislative meeting of the new year, Councilmember David Grosso today re-introduced an interstate compact that would prohibit a race to the bottom between the District of Columbia and its neighboring jurisdictions of Maryland and Virginia to lure the Washington Football Team with taxpayer-funded giveaways.

“This compact sends a clear message to Dan Snyder: the District of Columbia and its neighbors will not be played for fools,” said Grosso. “Wealthy companies seek to pit jurisdictions against each other to see who will offer the greatest incentives–we saw this most recently with the Amazon HQ2 contest. Like Amazon, a football team worth over $1 billion should not need to rely on special government assistance to fund their facilities.”

The Washington Area Professional Football Team Franchise Facility Interstate Compact Establishment Act of 2019 creates an interstate compact that precludes members from providing or offering special public incentives or financing for the construction of facilities for the Washington Football Team.

Research shows that NFL stadiums do not generate the dramatic local economic growth promised and cities tend to not recoup their significant financial contributions through increased tax revenue.

“Funding a new stadium is just not in the District of Columbia’s best interest,” Grosso said. “Furthermore, District taxpayers’ money should not be used to further the commercial use of racist and derogatory terms that dishonor indigenous peoples.”

Maryland Delegate David Moon (D-Montgomery) plans to re-introduce the compact in the Maryland House of Delegates this month. Virginia Delegate Michael Webert (R-Fauquier) re-filed his version in the Virginia House of Delegates last week.

Grosso had previously introduced the compact in 2017.

Last month, Grosso sent a letter to Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton urging her to oppose efforts by Mayor Muriel Bowser, Daniel Snyder, Republicans in the House of Representatives, and the Trump Administration to slip a provision into the must-pass end of year federal spending package that would pave the way for a return of the football team to RFK, as first reported by the Washington Post. With Democrats now in control of the House, it is unlikely such a provision will pass.

During his time on the Council, Grosso has repeatedly called for the team to change their name–a racial slur against American Indians–most recently joining indigenous peoples and activists to deliver petitions to the football team. In his first term in office, Grosso introduced and secured passage of a Council resolution calling on the team to change its name. He has also been a champion of legislation to end D.C.’s recognition of Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

The interstate compact bill was introduced in the Council Secretary’s office ahead of tomorrow’s legislative meeting, the first of the new Council Period. From the dais, Grosso plans to introduce legislation to protect special education rights of youth defendants; legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana sales in the District of Columbia; and overhaul the way D.C. handles records of arrests, charges, and convictions in the District of Columbia to support reintegration of people with such records into the community.


###

Comment

Comment

Councilmember Grosso requests information from City Administrator on D.C. government's acceptance of cash

Last month, Councilmember Grosso 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.

Federal data indicates that 1 in 3 D.C. residents are underbanked, while 1 in 10 are unbanked. Additionally, many residents prefer to use cash to better manage their budgets and protect their identities.

Last year, Councilmember Grosso also introduced legislation to stop the trend toward cashless-only payments at local food establishments over concerns about equitable access for residents who are unbanked or underbanked.

Councilmember Grosso also has been monitoring the impact of the pilot program being undertaken on the 79 express bus route.  This pilot will ban the use of cash payment or SmarTrip reloading and Grosso fears that the change could worsen commute options for riders with disabilities or lower income residents.

Councilmember Grosso expects a response from City Administrator Young by January 18, 2019. You can read his letter below:

Comment

1 Comment

Councilmember Grosso urges Congresswoman Norton to oppose backdoor RFK deal

Citing the racist name and lack of transparency and community engagement, Councilmember Grosso today sent a letter to Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton urging her to oppose efforts by Mayor Bowser, Washington Football Team owner Daniel Snyder, Republicans in the House of Representatives, and the Trump Administration to slip a provision into the must-pass end of year federal spending package that would pave the way for a return of the football team to RFK, as first reported by the Washington Post.

“The current effort is the latest ploy by the team and congressional Republicans to avoid public scrutiny,” wrote Grosso. “This process lacks transparency and there has been no engagement with District of Columbia residents or tribal leaders to afford them an opportunity to voice their concerns. The prospect that the District of Columbia would once again welcome a team whose name promotes prejudice and reinforces harmful ethnic stereotyping runs counter to the ideals of equality, diversity and inclusion for all that we have long embodied.”

In his time on the Council, Grosso has repeatedly called for the team to change their name–a racial slur against American Indians–most recently joining indigenous peoples and activists to deliver petitions to the football team. Last year, Grosso joined bipartisan lawmakers from Maryland and Virginia to introduce an interstate compact to prohibit all three jurisdiction from offering public incentives or financing for the construction or maintenance of facilities for the football team.

“As a vote on the appropriations bill could be imminent, there is an urgent need to do whatever is necessary to ensure that this backdoor attempt fails. I stand with the National Congress of American Indians, Advancement Project, NAACP, National Urban League, Race Forward, and other organizations working actively to oppose this effort and I urge you to do all you can to thwart this closed door process,” Grosso concluded.

1 Comment

Comment

Councilmember Grosso expresses concerns to WMATA over cashless payment pilot for 79 express bus route

Earlier this month, Councilmember David Grosso sent a letter to Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Chairman Jack Evans lauding WMATA for its attempt to speed up service but expressing his concerns over the impact of the pilot program being undertaken on the 79 express bus route.  This pilot will ban the use of cash payment or SmarTrip reloading and Grosso fears that the change could worsen commute options for riders with disabilities or lower income residents.

"It is very important that we continue efforts to make our buses more efficient and faster, and I have no doubt that this proposed pilot for the 79 bus will show that this reduces overall trip times," Grosso wrote. "However, a speedier bus should not be a result of leaving some of our residents behind."

In the letter, Grosso made several suggestions to provide equitable service to all residents along the route.

WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedefeld responded to Councilmember Grosso with a letter dated June 21, 2018. Wiedefeld confirmed that nearly 10 percent of riders of the express route either paid their fare via cash or reloaded their SmarTrip onboard but did not elaborate on any plans to accommodate those riders beyond already existing options during the pilot.

Councilmember Grosso awaits the result of the pilot program and will continue to monitor its potential expansion to other routes to ensure that WMATA buses remain an option for all residents.

Both letters can be found below.

On June 25, Councilmember Grosso also introduced legislation to stop the trend toward cashless-only payments at local food establishments over concerns about equitable access for residents who are unbanked or underbanked.

Comment

Comment

Grosso promotes retail equity with bill to prohibit cashless retail

For Immediate Release:
June 26, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso promotes retail equity with bill to prohibit cashless retail

Washington, D.C. – Today Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) introduced legislation that promotes equity at local businesses by ending the trend towards cashless retail, a discriminatory practice that excludes District residents who do not have a credit or debit card.

The Cashless Retailers Prohibition Act of 2018 requires retail food establishments operating in the District of Columbia to accept cash as a form of payment. Further, it prohibits the 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.

Chairman Phil Mendelson, Councilmembers Anita Bonds, Brianne Nadeau, Vincent Gray, and Trayon White joined Grosso as co-introducers of the legislation.

###

Comment

Comment

Cashless Retailers Prohibition Act of 2018

Cashless Retailers Prohibition Act of 2018

Introduced: June 26, 2018

Co-introducers: Chairman Phil Mendelson, Councilmembers Anita Bonds, Brianne Nadeau, Vincent Gray, and Trayon White. 

BILL TEXT | PRESS RELEASE

Summary: To amend Title 28 of the District of Columbia Official Code to require retail food establishments to accept cash; to prevent discrimination against customers who prefer to use cash or do not have access to credit cards or other payment methods; and to provide for enforcement of this requirement.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Thank you Chairman Mendelson. Today, along with you, Councilmembers Anita Bonds, Brianne Nadeau, Vincent Gray, and Trayon White colleague, I am introducing the Cashless Retailers Prohibition Act of 2018.

Several local quick service restaurants, coffee shops, food trucks, and other businesses have recently implemented new policies to ban the use of cash as a form of payment.

This practice requires that patrons have a credit card in order to purchase a salad at Sweetgreen, frozen yogurt at Menchie’s, or a sandwich at Jetties.

Banning the use of cash is a discriminatory practice that disproportionately impacts the 10% of DC residents who are unbanked, and an additional 25% of residents who are underbanked and may not have access to a credit card.

In addition, this practice is discriminatory against youth, who are often unable to obtain a credit card, impacting many of our middle school and high school students.

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. 

These are customers who could otherwise afford the simple luxury of a glazed treat from B Doughnut in Union Market, though they may not have the ability to obtain a credit card.

In addition to the disparate impact on low-income and young patrons, this practice effects other customers who may prefer to pay with cash to better manage their budget, or to avoid the very real risk of identity theft that comes along with credit card use.

Through this bill, we can ensure that all DC 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.
 

Comment

Comment

Councilmember Grosso requires increased transparency in education sector and invests in expanded educational opportunities

For Immediate Release:
May 4, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Councilmember Grosso requires increased transparency in education sector and invests in expanded educational opportunities

Washington, D.C. – Under the leadership of Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), the Committee on Education today unanimously passed its recommendations for the District of Columbia FY2019 budget. The Committee’s recommendations require greater transparency from the education sector when formulating its budget. It also makes new investments that put students in the best position to succeed by creating positive school climates, bolstering community schools, and expanding access to multilingual education in D.C.

“I share the public’s frustration with the lack of transparency in the development of school budgets,” Grosso said. “The policy changes included in this report will force DCPS and the mayor to explain their math when devising future budgets. With that information, not only can the Committee, the Council, and the public perform greater oversight, but the city can begin to grapple with the true cost of educating our students as it examines additional reforms to our public education system.” 

Policy Recommendations and Legislative Change Highlights:

  • Greater accountability in the formulation of D.C. Public Schools’ budget: Legislative language in the budget requires DCPS to explain the cost that central office attributes to supporting each student, requires the mayor to report how the base of the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula (UPSFF) is calculated each year before the budget is formulated, and ensures accuracy in enrollment projections for budgetary purposes.
  • Greater transparency in the expenditure of at-risk dollars: By October 1, 2018, D.C. Public Schools must report to the Committee on Education how it will add an accounting line item to central office and school budgets allowing for more detailed tracking of funds intended for students at-risk for academic failure.
  • Study transportation barriers that hinder school attendance: Requires the Deputy Mayor for Education to collaborate with the District Department of Transportation to analyze student transportation times, options, and routes for chronically absent students.

“The budget the Committee has passed also creates a positive school environment that values a student’s presence and strives to meet the non-academic needs of our most vulnerable students,” said Grosso. “By addressing these issues, we can begin to close the achievement gap and get students on track to graduate ready for college, career, and life."

Investment Highlights:

  • Prioritizes students’ right to learn by reducing the use of exclusionary discipline: $4.4 million to fund the Student Fair Access to School Act to protect students’ right to an education, close the achievement gap, and foster positive school climates. This includes:
    • An increase of $450,000 for a total investment of nearly $1 million for Restorative Justice programs, which provide an alternative to outdated discipline methods.
    • An increase in the Universal Per Student Funding Formula (UPSFF) for students at-risk of academic failure.
    • Establishing the School Safety and Positive Climate Fund to support schools in implementing strategies to reduce suspensions and expulsions and facilitate training and technical assistance in positive behavioral interventions.
  • Improves educational outcomes by meeting students’ non-academic needs: An increase of $1.4 million for a total investment of nearly $3 million to expand community schools, which set students up for academic success by addressing their academic, health, and social needs through community partnerships.
  • Increases access to multilingual education in the District: $367,000 to establish the Office of Multilingual Education in OSSE, with dedicated personnel whose mission is to increase cross-sector access to high-quality multilingual education across the city.
  • Creates a world-class central library: $1 million for opening day collections at the newly-modernized Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, set to re-open in 2020.
  • Preserves our local history for future generations: $500,000 for the D.C. Oral History project, a collaboration of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., Humanities DC, and the D.C. Public Library, over the next four years.
  • Provides resources to combat residency fraud: Provides one additional full-time equivalent to the proposed three FTEs and $300,000 for OSSE to aid its mission of investigating and reporting residency fraud in D.C. schools.
  • Expands equitable, high-quality out-of-school learning opportunities: Increased investment of $652,000 for OST grants with redirection of defunct tax donation line and transfers from the Committees on Labor & Workforce Development and Business & Economic Development. Total Education investment: $13.6 million.
  • Supports services and housing for youth experiencing homelessness: The Education Committee transferred $300,000 to the Human Services Committee for wrap-around services at the 24-hour drop-in center and for shelter and housing for homeless youth.

###

Comment

Comment

Council passes Grosso’s bill to transform discipline in D.C. schools

For Immediate Release:
May 1, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Council unanimously passes Grosso’s bill to transform discipline in D.C. schools

Washington, D.C. – In a unanimous vote, the Council of the District of Columbia today passed legislation authored by Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) that limits the use of exclusionary discipline in D.C. traditional public and public charter schools.

“The Student Fair Access to School Act is transformational—it breaks the traditional model of school discipline which pushes students out of school and, too often, into the courts,” said Grosso of the legislation, one of the most expansive and comprehensive school discipline reform laws in the country. “This shifting mindset will result in students being better prepared to succeed academically and safer school environments for all.”

The Student Fair Access to School Amendment Act of 2018 limits out-of-school suspension of students in kindergarten through eighth grade to serious safety incidents and bans its utilization in high school for minor offenses. If exclusion becomes necessary, the bill protects a child’s right to an education while they are off premises and requires a plan for the student to successfully return to the classroom.

“Suspensions and expulsions are contributing to the achievement gap in our schools,” Grosso said. “For our students of color, our young girls, and our students who need additional educational supports, this is a civil rights bill.”

Last year, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) released data showing that Black students were eight times more likely to be suspended than White students, an increase over the previous year’s rate. Additionally, students with disabilities and at-risk students were two times and one-and-a-half times more likely to be suspended than their peers, respectively. The U.S. Department of Education recently released national data that mirrored these findings.

Grosso will now turn to providing funding for positive behavioral supports in schools which produce safer school climates and better learning conditions for all students.

“In addition to this legislation, I look forward to making the necessary investments in school-based mental and behavioral health supports and alternative discipline programs when the Committee on Education marks up the fiscal year 2019 budget later this week,” Grosso said.

 “The Student Fair Access to School Act is the result of over a year of work, which included input from students, parents, teachers, school leaders, student and family advocates, researchers, mental health practitioners, government agency heads, and my colleagues. I appreciate that time and input immensely and urge the mayor to join us in this effort on behalf of students by signing Fair Access into law.”

The passage of the legislation is the latest success in Councilmember Grosso’s work to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline since joining the Council in 2013. That year, Grosso secured language requiring data collection and reporting from each local education agency on their utilization of exclusionary discipline. The first law he passed when he became chairperson of the Committee on Education in 2015 banned the suspension or expulsion of pre-kindergarten students. He also included language in the School Attendance Clarification Amendment Act that ended the practice of suspending and expelling minors who were late to school or had an unexcused absence and has increased annual investments in alternative discipline programs, such as restorative justice, and community schools.


 

###

Comment

Comment

Council unanimously advances Grosso’s bill limiting exclusionary discipline

For Immediate Release:
April 10, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Council unanimously advances Grosso’s bill limiting exclusionary discipline

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), chairperson of the Committee on Education, on the initial approval by the Council of the District of Columbia of his Student Fair Access to School Act, which aims to reduce the use of exclusionary discipline practices, including suspensions and expulsions. The Council voted unanimously today to advance the legislation to a final vote later this year:

“The full Council has taken the first step to protect every student’s right to an education, of which suspensions and expulsions deprive them. We know how negatively suspensions and expulsions affect the students pushed out of school—they are more likely to fail academically, to drop out, and to end up involved in the criminal justice system.

“One of my first acts as a Councilmember was to require that OSSE collect and report data on suspensions and expulsions.  The latest data demonstrates that Black students are nearly eight times more likely to receive an out-of-school suspension than White students. Students with disabilities are nearly twice as likely to receive at least one out-of-school suspension; at-risk students 1.5 times more likely. Moreover, we are seeing an increase in the use of disciplinary actions for subjective reasons. It is unacceptable and, if we seek to close the racial achievement gap, we must end it.

“The Student Fair Access to School Act limits out-of-school suspension of students in kindergarten through eighth grade to serious safety incidents and bans its utilization in high school for minor offenses. If exclusion becomes necessary, the bill protects a child’s right to an education while they are off premises and requires a plan for the student to successfully return to the classroom.

“This collaborative legislation is the result of over a year of work, which included input from students, parents, teachers, school leaders, student and family advocates, researchers, mental health practitioners, government agency heads, and my colleagues. I look forward to working with my colleagues before the final vote and working through the Council budget process to provide significant investment in school-based behavioral health supports for our students and other resources to help schools.”
 

###

Comment

1 Comment

Grosso opposes additional incentives for Amazon HQ2

For Immediate Release:
April 5, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso opposes additional incentives for Amazon HQ2

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) on the District of Columbia's bid for Amazon to establish their second headquarters in the city:

"In recent months, the District of Columbia has engaged in a bidding war to curry favor with Amazon, seeking to entice them to establish their second headquarters, HQ2, in the city. Advocates for aggressively pursuing the internet behemoth tout the jobs, tax revenue, and prestige that would accrue to the District should we be picked. I certainly understand those arguments and would welcome Amazon to join our strong business community. But, the current state of the chase makes me wonder: at what cost?

"One of the most troubling aspects of the hunt for Amazon has been the opaqueness with which D.C.'s bid has been developed. Our open government laws and local reporting have made D.C.'s offer partially public, though highly redacted. Most of what the public can see are pre-existing incentives available to most businesses seeking to set up shop in our city. One could reasonably presume that the large black boxes in the bid shield the Mayor's offer of millions of additional public dollars in incentives that would require approval from the D.C. Council. It is problematic, then, that such details have not been proactively shared with me and my colleagues.

"The secrecy shrouding the bid is frustrating but so are the implications providing such incentives has for our responsibility to meet our residents' needs. Every year during the budget process I hear warnings from the District's Chief Financial Officer or some of my colleagues that though the city is in a strong fiscal position we cannot always expect it to be that way. This argument is generally used to discourage additional investments in human services, affordable housing, and even education. I worry that draining city coffers to bring Amazon here would intensify the calls for restraint in the investments that directly impact our residents. And while there is no doubt that Amazon could increase the tax revenue which could be redirected into city services, history tells us that will not happen. I worked as a staffer for the Council's Committee on Economic Development when we began revitalization. We made that same promise back then and yet we consistently fall short of fulfilling it.

"Instead of attracting outside entities with untold resources, we could be boosting the District's local business community, one that includes a flourishing technology industry. These small tech startups could benefit from the same incentives as Amazon. Such an investment would be spread across the city, rather than a centrally located HQ, cultivate homegrown businesses, and promote competition. Stacking the deck in favor of one large player could have the exact opposite effect.

"The District of Columbia is a great city to live and work in, with new people and companies flocking here daily. It is attractive in its own right. Though the benefits of Amazon choosing D.C. for its new home are not in doubt, the benefit of bending over backward to lure it here–at the expense of our current residents and local businesses–is. That is why I cannot and will not support any additional incentives to bring Amazon's HQ2 to D.C."

###

1 Comment

Comment

Student Fair Access to School Amendment Act of 2018

On March 13, 2018, the Committee on Education unanimously approved Councilmember Grosso's Student Fair Access to School Amendment Act of 2018 (originally introduced in November 2017 as the Student Fair Access to School Act of 2017).  The legislation limits out-of-school suspension of students in kindergarten through eighth grade to serious safety incidents and bans its utilization in high school for minor offenses. If exclusion becomes necessary, the bill protects a child's right to an education while they are off premises and requires a plan for the student to successfully return to the classroom.

Read the approved committee print of the legislation and committee report.

Comment

1 Comment

Grosso celebrates unanimous Education Committee approval of legislation to curb the use of exclusionary discipline in D.C. schools

For Immediate Release:
March 13, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso celebrates unanimous Education Committee approval of legislation to curb the use of exclusionary discipline in D.C. schools

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), chairperson of the Committee on Education, on the unanimous approval by the Committee on Education of his Student Fair Access to School Act of 2017, which aims to reduce the use of exclusionary discipline practices, including suspensions and expulsions:

"Today marks the latest step in my work to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline. Every student has a right to an education, of which suspensions and expulsions deprive them. We know how negatively suspensions and expulsions affect the students pushed out of school-they are more likely to fail academically, to drop out, and to end up involved in the criminal justice system.

"One of my first acts as a Councilmember was to require that OSSE collect and report data on suspensions and expulsions.  The latest data demonstrates that black students are nearly eight times more likely to receive an out-of-school suspension than white students. Students with disabilities are nearly twice as likely to receive at least one out-of-school suspension; at-risk students 1.5 times more likely. Moreover, we are seeing an increase in the use of disciplinary actions for subjective reasons. It is unacceptable.

"The Student Fair Access to School Act of 2017 limits out-of-school suspension of students in kindergarten through eighth grade to serious safety incidents and bans its utilization in high school for minor offenses. If exclusion becomes necessary, the bill protects a child's right to an education while they are off premises and requires a plan for the student to successfully return to the classroom.

"This collaborative legislation is the result of over a year of work, which included input from students, parents, teachers, school leaders, student and family advocates, researchers, mental health practitioners, and government agency heads. I am extremely proud to see it move on to the full Council for consideration."

###

1 Comment

Comment

Council Budget Office releases Economic and Policy Impact Statement: Approaches and Strategies for Providing a Minimum Income in the District of Columbia

On Tuesday February 27, 2018, the Council of the District of Columbia's Office of the Budget Director released a report on the feasibility of a public program which would guarantee that every resident has enough resources to meet their basic needs entitled Economic and Policy Impact Statement: Approaches and Strategies for Providing a Minimum Income in the District of Columbia.  This report was prepared at the request of Councilmember David Grosso and Chairman Phil Mendelson and is the second report that the Budget Office has prepared under D.C. Council Rule 308. The first such report was on the Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act, which is now law.

Four documents are linked below and can be found on the Council’s website:

From the Council's Budget Office:

This report offers the Council an evidence-based resource for weighing this proposal’s policy implications and economic costs and benefits.   The study is divided into three sections:

  1. An analysis of D.C.’s cost of living versus the social safety net benefits available to low-income households.
  2. A discussion of three methods for providing a minimum income: a negative income tax, a guaranteed minimum income, or a universal basic income.
  3. An economic analysis of a minimum income program’s impact on the D.C. economy using REMI, a widely used economic forecasting model.

The report confirms that it is very difficult for low-income households living in the District to make ends meet. The public social safety net provides enough resources for some, but not most, low-income households to meet their basic needs. 

  • The estimated level of income that three, typical households in the District would need to pay for their basic necessities absent government benefit programs is higher than the current minimum hourly wage of $12.50.   The income levels are as follows:
    • Single adult:  Annual income of approximately $36,988 or an hourly wage of $17.78. 
    • Single parent with one child: Annual income of about $66,113 or an hourly wage of $31.79.
    • Single parent with two children: Annual income of roughly $96,885 or an hourly wage of $46.58.
  • A prototypical single, working age adult without a disability whose earned income falls below the Federal Poverty Level would not be able to meet their basic needs even if they received all the public social safety net supports to which they are eligible.
  • The existing social safety net is robust enough to allow a prototypical extremely low-income single parent with one or two children to meet their families’ needs, assuming they can access all the public benefit programs to which they are eligible (including a housing voucher). It is important to note that eligibility for a safety net program does not guarantee receipt of the benefit.  

The study forecasts economic conditions under four possible minimum income scenarios relative to a projection of the conditions if there was no change in policy. The study predicts that a minimum income program would negatively impact economic growth, although the magnitude varies greatly depending upon the program’s design.

  • Raising households’ income to 100% of the Federal Poverty Level is likely to have a relatively small negative impact on the District’s economy and labor force. It would cause the D.C. economy to add 1,600 to 3,000 fewer jobs and increase GDP by $99 million to $185 million less over the next ten years than otherwise projected.
  • Raising households’ income to 450% of the Federal Poverty Level—roughly D.C.’s cost of living—could have major implications for the District’s economy and tax base. It would reduce the number of jobs in D.C. held by residents by 101,000 to 138,000 over ten years. The District would likely forgo about $2.6 billion each year in federal payments and grants. Such a program could increase local expenditures by $7 billion to $9 billion per year, essentially doubling the District’s current local funds budget.

 

Comment