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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 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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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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Grosso champions greater access to D.C.’s medical marijuana program

For Immediate Release:
January 22, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso champions greater access to D.C.’s medical marijuana program

Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) today introduced legislation that would further improve access to the District of Columbia’s medical marijuana program for residents as another method of reducing opioid-related deaths.

“We are all concerned with the ongoing tragedy of D.C. residents dying from opioid overdoses and this legislation provides another tool to address that crisis: greater access to the District’s medical marijuana program,” said Grosso.

Since 2014, over 800 people have died as result of opioid-related overdoses, according to the D.C. Chief Medical Examiner. Two hundred and seventy-nine of those deaths were reported in 2017 alone, more than triple those reported in 2014.

Under the Medical Marijuana Patient Health and Accessibility Improvement Amendment Act of 2019 patients would be granted provisional registration and same-day access to medical marijuana like any other medicine.

Additionally, dispensaries would be allowed to establish safe use facilities so that patients can consume medical marijuana outside of their home, which would address the challenge that many patients face of having nowhere to consume.

Finally, the legislation also removes the plant count limit on cultivation centers to address ongoing supply issues and seeks to rectify negative impacts of the racist War on Drugs by allowing more residents affected by the misguided criminalization of marijuana to be employed in these businesses.

“Medical marijuana has been shown to be a viable alternative to the prescription of opioid painkillers, which can set people down the path to addiction,” Grosso said. “While we have made significant improvements to our medical marijuana program here in D.C., we can do more to improve access for patients and reduce opioid reliance and overdose.”

A study in JAMA Internal Medicine found that medical marijuana programs reduce opioid overdose death rates by as much as 25 percent. Americans for Safe Access also reported lower prescription rates of painkillers in states with medical marijuana programs.

Grosso also views the legislation as an appropriate response the negative effects of congressional interference with D.C.’s local efforts to regulate marijuana.

“D.C. residents are being diverted from the medical marijuana program to the unregulated, easy to access, underground market,” Grosso said. “That is posing real problems for the small business owners in the medical marijuana community, and our whole medical marijuana system could be in jeopardy if we don’t take action.”

Councilmembers Vincent Gray and Brianne Nadeau joined Grosso as co-introducers of the legislation.

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Grosso re-introduces bill to assess public health impacts of new development

For Immediate Release:
January 22, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.286.1987 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso re-introduces bill to assess public health impacts of new development

Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) today proposed legislation that would promote healthier individuals and communities by requiring new development projects to receive an analysis of its health impacts before proceeding.

“New housing and transportation can have profound impacts on the health and well-being of individuals and communities, yet these impacts are often not sufficiently evaluated,” said Grosso. “As the District of Columbia continues to grow, with new development projects emerging every day, it is imperative that we assess how these projects positively or negatively affect the health of our residents.”

The Health Impact Assessment Program Establishment Act of 2019 creates a health impact assessment program within the Department of Health to evaluate the potential health effects of proposed projects on individuals and communities and to support healthy communities, healthy community design, and development that promotes physical and mental health by encouraging healthy behaviors, quality of life, social connectedness, safety, and equity.

Through this legislation DOH will be able to examine all projects that require an environmental impact statement–such as those relating to new construction, roadway changes, and others–to determine their impact on physical activity, mental health, food and nutritional choice, noise levels, accessibility for individuals with disabilities, and a host of other factors.

“I am committed to improving the health and wellness of every D.C. resident,” Grosso said. “Implementing this comprehensive approach here in D.C. would help to promote sustainable development, improve and reduce health inequities, encourage cross-sector collaboration, and inspire a greater appreciation for public health in the policymaking process.”

Councilmembers Brianne K. Nadeau, Vince Gray, Elissa Silverman, and Anita Bonds joined Grosso as co-introducers of the legislation.

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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.

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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.

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Grosso introduces legislation to protect educational rights of special needs students in criminal proceedings

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

Grosso introduces legislation to protect educational rights of special needs students in criminal proceedings

Washington, D.C. – Today Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, re-introduced legislation to protect the educational rights of youth with special needs involved in criminal proceedings in the District of Columbia.

“The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensures that children with disabilities have the opportunity to receive free appropriate public education and makes them eligible for special education and related services up until the age of 22,” said Grosso. “While the Superior Court designates a panel of special education attorneys for these youth in Family Court, adult students that appear in criminal proceedings do not receive the same treatment.”

The Special Education Rights for Youth Defendants Amendment Act of 2019 establishes a panel of special education attorneys at the Superior Court to represent students with identified special education needs who are involved in the criminal justice system.

According to the United States Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services, students with disabilities represent a large portion of students in correctional facilities. In D.C., over 80% of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (“DYRS”) committed youth have special education needs.

“This legislation will go a long way in helping ensure older students with special needs are adequately represented, afforded a real opportunity to earn a high school diploma, and placed on a path to a more productive and successful life,” said Grosso.

This bill is the latest step Councilmember Grosso has taken to implement recommendations of the Students in the Care of the District of Columbia Working Group he convened in 2018.  According to a report issued by the group last July, students in the care of the D.C. government experience many disruptions to education which make it difficult for them to achieve their educational goals.

The Council unanimously passed Grosso’s Students in the Care of D.C. Coordinating Committee Act of 2018, which establishes a coordinating committee to focus on the educational success of students who are detained, committed, incarcerated, and in foster care. before it adjourned at the end of last month.

“The District of Columbia government has a responsibility to provide high-quality education to the youth who are in its care,” Grosso said. “The recommendations put forward by the working group push D.C. to better fulfill that responsibility by improving coordination between agencies and reducing barriers to educational achievement for these often-overlooked youth.”

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Statement of Councilmember Grosso on the reappointment of Hanseul Kang as Superintendent of Education

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

Statement of Councilmember Grosso on the reappointment of Hanseul Kang as Superintendent of Education

Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, released the following statement following the announcement by Mayor Muriel Bowser that she intends to re-appoint Hanseul Kang as the State Superintendent of Education:

“In my time working with Superintendent Kang, I have appreciated her depth of knowledge, candor, and responsiveness. Under her leadership, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education has undergone marked improvement in both action and reputation. I support the mayor’s decision to re-appoint Superintendent Kang and I look forward to continuing to work with her to improve educational outcomes for our students across the District.”

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