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The criminalization of sex work has caused more harm than good. D.C. needs a new approach.

For Immediate Release:
October 17, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

The criminalization of sex work has caused more harm than good.

D.C. needs a new approach.

Statement of Councilmember David Grosso

Washington, D.C. – The following is Councilmember David Grosso’s opening statement delivered at the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety hearing on the Community Safety and Health Amendment Act of 2019, which would abandon the District of Columbia’s criminalization approach to sex work in favor of one that focuses on human rights, health, and safety:

“Thank you, Councilmember Allen, for convening this hearing today.

“This is a historic occasion as we consider how we as the government and the community should treat commercial sex and, most importantly, how we can better protect the human rights of the people involved.

“Earlier this year, along with Councilmembers Robert White, Brianne Nadeau, and Anita Bonds, I introduced the bill before us today, the Community Safety and Health Amendment Act of 2019.

“Over the past 3 years I developed this legislation in close partnership with the Sex Worker Advocates Coalition, and the bill is in line with recommendations from Amnesty International, the World Health Organization, U.N. AIDS, Human Rights Watch, and numerous other human rights, public health, and anti-trafficking organizations.

“Since coming into office, I have met with and listened to sex workers and other people who trade sexual services for money as well as survivors of human trafficking.

“I met with them because all of my work at the Council is grounded in a human rights and racial equity framework.

“That means looking out for the human rights of the most marginalized communities, including people in the sex trade, and reconsidering policies that perpetuate racism.

“In listening to those most directly affected, I heard how criminalization and stigma cause tremendous harm to people in the sex trade.

“The challenges facing these members of our community are many: I have heard far too many stories of violence, including stabbings, beatings, shootings, rapes, and murder, all because the perpetrators think they can act with impunity against those in the sex trade.

“Worse, we hear of police refusing to help, blaming people in the sex trade for the violence they have suffered. Doctors and other professionals sworn to help instead of mistreating and shaming people. Evictions by landlords and discrimination by shelters and other social service providers.

“Police seize condoms and other safer sex materials, or prosecutors use them as evidence of crime.

“Threats of arrest, of no one believing you because you are just a whore, of being reported to ICE, and more, being used by traffickers and other bad actors to exploit people in the sex trade.

“What I heard and what research has shown is that criminalization of sex for money between consenting adults does not stop these harms from happening.

“Rather, criminalization directly encourages these harms by further marginalizing people, saddling them with criminal records, making them fear the government, and labeling them as criminal and deviant and therefore acceptable targets for violence.

“People in the sex trade and those who work with them are not the only ones who know that the criminalization approach has failed.

“Ask any neighbor in an area where commercial sex happens, and they will tell you that the activity persists, despite police patrols, raids, stings, or marching sex workers across the bridge to Virginia as was done in the ‘80s.

“I often refer to an article from April 28, 2017, in the Washington Post describing the arrests of eight people on prostitution charges at Massachusetts and Twelfth NW.

“The article notes that a similar incident happened in 2014 at the same corner—police arrested 19 people that time. And in 1995, a sergeant was quoted in yet another article in the Post arguing that the latest arrests at the corner had tackled the problem.

“Arresting adults for engaging in consenting sexual acts for money does not stop it from happening and it does not address the other problems that we are concerned about, whether serious ones like violence and exploitation or more trivial but still important ones like condoms on sidewalks.

“It is overdue for D.C. to change how we address commercial sex in our city and seek a new approach that focuses on human rights, health, and safety.

“What is the best approach to achieve those goals? People who trade sex for money tell me that we need to decriminalize consensual sex for money between consenting adults.

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

“Perhaps most importantly, this is about giving people more options, not fewer.

“In New Zealand where this approach has been in place for over a decade, sex workers report feeling safer and better able to assert their rights.

“A report last winter from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that sex workers in criminalized contexts were three times more likely to face physical and sexual violence than those in jurisdictions with less policing.

“The internationally respected medical journal the Lancet estimates that 33 to 45 percent of HIV cases could be prevented by the removal of criminal penalties from commercial sex.

“Contrary to what you may have heard, this bill does not change any of our laws regarding coercion or exploitation, which will continue to be prohibited.

“Nor does it change how criminal penalties are used to combat the trafficking of minors.

“This has been the topic of much debate about the bill. Let me be clear, the bill maintains legal prohibitions on operating a house of prostitution, i.e. a brothel.

“And allow me to clarify another point of content—this bill does not legalize ‘pimping’.

“The use of coercion, force, or fraud by another person to compel someone to engage in commercial sex remains strictly illegal under this proposed legislation.

“To the contrary, by bringing people in the sex trade out of the shadows, we can fully engage them as partners in the fight against human trafficking, as recognized by international anti-trafficking organizations such as La Strada and Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women.

“Removing criminalization means we can work with people in the sex trade to prevent violence and tackle HIV, as groups from the United Nations to law enforcement to public health experts have all noted.

“Finally, because I believe this bill is a first step to improving community health and safety and because it is important to constantly assess the impact of our work on the Council, the bill creates a task force to study the effects of these changes.

“Particularly important to that effort will be recommendations for budget increases. We know that one of the best ways to fight human trafficking and to give people in the sex trade more options is by funding people’s basic needs.

“Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not note the incredible racial disparities in who is criminalized under our current system. Overwhelmingly, people who are African American are arrested and convicted of the offenses that this bill would decriminalize.

“Data from MPD shows that from 2014 to 2017, almost 74% of arrests for commercial sex were of African American people, with about 14% being Latina or Latino.

“Data from the D.C. Sentencing Commission shows that over the last two years, 89% of individuals convicted for prostitution-related offenses were African American. Since 2010, that percentage has been roughly the same, at 87%.

“We also know that the LGBT community, particularly transgender women, is disproportionately affected by the criminalization of commercial sex.

“This legislation is about reducing harm. I know that everyone here today shares that goal. We may have different opinions about the best approach, but let us assume the best intentions of each other.

“Keeping people safe, healthy, and with their human rights respected cuts across whether someone identifies as a sex worker, sex trafficking survivor, or is just doing what they need to do in order to pay the bills.

“We need to dramatically improve life for people in all these circumstances. The bill before us today may not be perfect, but its core tenets represent our best chance for significantly changing things for the better for the communities we all care about.

“Thank you, again, Councilmember Allen for holding this hearing.

“I know that it wasn’t easy, but you took up the challenge of furthering the discussion on this topic, and I’m grateful to you for that. Our city is better for it.

“Finally, thank you to everyone here today to testify. I look forward to the discussion.”

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Councilmember Grosso introduces bills to enhance representation in local government

For Immediate Release:
October 8, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Councilmember Grosso introduces bills to enhance representation in local government

Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso introduced three bills today that create a local government that is more representative, better reflects the preferences of residents, and includes those whose voices have been left out of local decisions.

“Over the past few weeks we have renewed our focus on making the District of Columbia the 51st state and finally ending the injustice that has deprived our residents of a voice in our federal government,” said Grosso. “While this fight is of paramount importance, it is equally important to examine the ways we can improve representation in our own local government.”

Accurately reflecting the will of voters

“Too often in the District of Columbia, we see victors emerge from a crowded field with far less than a majority of the vote,” Grosso said. “That may be even more likely to occur now as the Fair Elections program I introduced, and this Council passed, has successfully encouraged more residents to seek elected office.”

The Ranked Choice Voting Amendment Act of 2019 introduced by Grosso today would implement ranked choice voting, sometimes called instant runoff voting, in D.C. elections.

Ranked choice voting ensures that individuals receive a majority of the vote of the electorate by allowing voters to rank the choices on their ballots in order of preference. Tabulation of results proceeds in rounds. The first round eliminates the person with the fewest votes, then reallocates those votes to the voter’s second choice in the next round. This continues until one person receives a clear majority of the vote.

“This important legislation will increase voter turnout as voters will be free to mark their ballot for the candidate that they truly prefer without fear that their choice will help elect their least preferred candidate,” said Grosso.

Currently, Maine and 11 cities utilize ranked choice voting for their elections.

The bill was co-introduced by Councilmembers Elissa Silverman, Brianne Nadeau, and Mary Cheh and was referred to the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety.

A voice in government for permanent residents

Grosso also re-introduced the Local Residents Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2019, which allows permanent residents in the District of Columbia, who are on the path to U.S. citizenship, the right to vote in local D.C. elections for Mayor, Council, State Board of Education, Advisory Neighborhood Commission, and Attorney General.

“While our rallying cry for statehood has included the mantra ‘No taxation without representation’ the same can be said for our legal permanent residents who use our streets, send their children to our schools, and pay taxes just like any other resident—and deserve a voice in our democracy,” said Grosso.

The bill was co-introduced by Councilmembers Elissa Silverman, Robert White, Brianne Nadeau, Jack Evans, Brandon Todd, and Charles Allen and was referred to the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety.

Greater representation in local government for all

Finally, Grosso introduced the Enhanced Representation Charter Amendment Act of 2019 which would reform the District of Columbia legislature to provide D.C. residents additional input into the local political process.

“I have often said that in a city as large as ours with a population greater than some states, 13 members can be insufficient to tackle the multitude of issues we see regularly in a meaningful way,” said Grosso.

The legislation creates a bicameral legislature for the District made up of a Senate of nine senators and an Assembly of twenty-seven Representatives. This bill also makes the elections to the legislature non-partisan, ensuring that one party primary does not serve as a de facto general election.

“With more representatives representing fewer residents, public input can be better captured at each stage of the legislative process,” said Grosso. “And additional elected officials and staff mean more time and thought dedicated to improving our legislative outcomes.”

The bill was co-introduced by Councilmembers Robert White and Brianne Nadeau and referred to the Committee of the Whole.

“While the residents of the District of Columbia deserve representation in the U.S. Congress, they also deserve a local government that better represents everyone who is affected by our decisions. One that truly reflects their preferences in candidates. And one that provides residents multiple avenues to affect the decisions we make every day on their behalf,” concluded Grosso.

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It’s time to honor Indigenous Peoples’ Day in D.C.

For Immediate Release:
October 7, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

It’s time to honor Indigenous Peoples’ Day in D.C.

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso ahead of tomorrow’s legislative meeting of the Council of the District of Columbia, where he will propose legislation to rename the holiday celebrated on the second Monday in October to “Indigenous Peoples’ Day”:

“For at least five years now legislation supported by a majority of the Council that would honor our native populations and rename Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day has been stalled by Chairman Mendelson without any public input or hearing.

“Tomorrow, along with Councilmembers Allen, Bonds, Cheh, Nadeau, Trayon White, and Robert White, I will put forth legislation that will force a vote of the full Council to finally do the right thing by ending the celebration of the misleading narrative of Christopher Columbus on the second Monday in October.

“This move is not controversial. Maine, New Mexico, Vermont, North Carolina, Alaska, South Dakota, Oregon, and at least 130 cities and towns have now renamed the holiday, according to the New York Times.

“This is not just a movement in other areas of the country—I feel it right here in the District of Columbia every single day. I get letters from students requesting the name change; I know many schools use the holiday to honor Indigenous People instead of Christopher Columbus; and frankly, it’s an accident of history that Columbus is honored in this way.

“Columbus Day was officially designated as a federal holiday in 1937 despite the fact that Columbus did not discover North America, despite the fact that millions of people were already living in North America upon his arrival in the Americas, and despite the fact that Columbus never set foot on the shores of the current United States.

“Columbus enslaved, colonized, mutilated, and massacred thousands of Indigenous People in the Americas.

“We cannot continue to allow this history to be celebrated as a holiday in the District of Columbia. The government of the District of Columbia is clear that we are a government that values equality, diversity, and inclusion. Continuing to observe a holiday built on the celebration of oppression runs counter to those values.

“Already a majority of the Council has indicated their support to re-designate the second Monday in October through previous bills. It is my hope that we can come together tomorrow and honor Indigenous People and their rich history and cultural contributions with a “yes” vote ahead of October 14.”

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Councilmember Grosso joined by national advocates to encourage victims of sexual abuse to file civil claims under new law

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Councilmember Grosso joined by national advocates to encourage victims of sexual abuse to file civil claims under new law

For Immediate Release:
October 7, 2019
 
Contacts:
Councilmember Grosso: Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Zero Abuse Project: Melissa Green, 202.618.6961 - melissagreen@rational360.com

Grosso joined by national advocates to encourage victims of sexual abuse to file civil claims under new law

Washington, D.C. – Victims of sexual abuse in the District of Columbia may be eligible to file civil lawsuits against their abusers, even if previously barred by the statute of limitations under a law enacted by the D.C. Council last year.

The Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations Amendment Act of 2018, which incorporated parts of Councilmember David Grosso’s Childhood Protection Against Sexual Abuse Amendment Act, ended the criminal statute of limitations and extended the civil statute of limitations for any case of sexual abuse–not just acts of sexual abuse that occurred while the survivor was a minor.

Additionally, the law created a two-year window for civil claims that were previously time-barred for survivors up to the age of 40 to be filed.

“The recent spate of high-profile cases involving allegations of and convictions for sexual abuse underscore the pervasiveness of sexual assault in America,” said Councilmember David Grosso at a press conference held today with advocates for survivors of sexual abuse. “The prevalence of these incidences, across every sector, from the Catholic Church to as far-reaching as the Office of the President of the United States, defies the word ‘problem.’ As policymakers, we have to ensure that every available option is afforded to those who have been harmed. This law will allow the many courageous survivors across the city to seek justice under the law.”

Previously, civil actions related to sexual abuse must have been commenced within 7 years of the date the victim attains the age of 18 or 3 years from when the victim knew, or reasonably should have known, of any act constituting the abuse, whichever is later. Now individuals have until the age of 40, or 5 years from when they knew, or reasonably should have known, of any act constituting sexual abuse, whichever is later, to file a civil action.

D.C. is leading the way along with seven states as part of a growing national movement to end statutes of limitation for sexual abuse. Grosso partnered with national organizations Zero Abuse Project and the National Crime Victims Bar Association to educate and raise awareness of the window for survivors to file civil lawsuits over the next two years.

“I want to thank Councilmember Grosso for his efforts to assist survivors and protect the children of the District of Columbia from future abuse. Because of this work, under the Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations Amendment Act of 2018, survivors of child sexual abuse can now seek justice and hold predators and the institutions that covered for them accountable for decades of abuse,” said Jeffery Dion, CEO of the Zero Abuse Project. “Moving forward, the new law also removes the perverse incentives for institutions to cover abuse as they can no longer just wait out a short statute of limitations to protect their reputation. The Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations Amendment Act of 2018 is in fact our most powerful tool to stop abuse and protect kids.”

The law became effective on May 3, 2019 and thus victims of sexual abuse whose claims had been previously barred due to the statute of limitations have until May 3, 2021 to file civil lawsuits against their abusers.

“As a survivor of child sexual abuse that occurred here in DC, I want to commend Councilmember Grosso for a critical first step for survivors. The two year window and extending the age to 40 from 25 is a huge victory,” said former NFL player Al Chesley, who survived sexual abuse at the hands of D.C. police officer in his youth. “It took 33 years after my abuse to be willing to admit it to myself and talk about it with others – I was 48 years old which also happens to be the national average for survivors to come forward -- so I encourage everyone working to support survivors of child sex abuse to continue to push until there is no statute of limitations for civil cases.” Chesley continued.

The National Crime Victim Bar Association offers a referral service for survivors who would like to pursue civil suits. Referrals are based on type of case and location. Each survivor will be offered three referrals.

“The enactment of the Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations Amendment Act of 2018 represents a crucial step in helping victims of child sexual abuse seek justice so long denied to them. It also represents a much-needed readiness to hold abusers, and those who remained complicit with abuse, accountable for their crimes,” said Renee Williams, Director of the National Crime Victim Bar Association. “The National Crime Victim Bar Association stands ready to assist victims of child sexual abuse by ensuring they have access to the civil justice system. Victims seeking an attorney can request an attorney referral by accessing victimbar.org/referrals or by calling 1-844-4HELPDC.

“I hope more jurisdictions to follow our lead,” said Grosso. “Child safety depends on legislators holding institutions, not just individual perpetrators, accountable for their actions. We cannot continue to allow individuals or institutions to maintain their depraved secrets. We must instead encourage and empower victims to come forward and know that a fair and just system is in place to help them right unspeakable wrongs.”

Grosso and the Zero Abuse Project will hold a town hall at the John A. Wilson Building on Wednesday, November 6, 2019 to educate survivors about their options and connect them to resources to seek justice and healing.

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Councilmember Grosso introduces legislation to protect D.C. abortion rights

For Immediate Release:
September 17, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Councilmember Grosso introduces legislation to protect D.C. abortion rights

Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso today pushed back against a tide of measures in several states that seek to limit reproductive health freedom by introducing legislation to affirm all D.C. residents’ right to access the full range of reproductive health options, including abortion.

“Across the country, reproductive health decisions—and specifically abortion rights—are under attack,” said Grosso. “President Trump continues to nominate judges that will shift the ideological makeup of the courts, while state legislatures enact unconstitutional laws that restrict access to abortion.”

Since January, 10 states have passed total or near-total bans on abortion. In some cases, laws like Alabama’s, the strictest abortion ban in the country, are crafted in such a way to force the court to revisit Roe v. Wade. In other states, restrictive laws are meant to make access to abortion so difficult that it will not matter whether Roe v. Wade stands or not.

“D.C. residents have the right, in consultation with their doctor and free from government interference, to make medical decisions about contraception, abortion, or carrying a pregnancy to term,” Grosso said. “We must enshrine that right into the D.C. Human Rights Act, leaving no doubt that the District of Columbia stands for reproductive health freedom.”

The Strengthening Reproductive Health Protections Amendment Act of 2019 puts D.C. in direct opposition to this trend by amending the 1977 Human Rights Act to recognize the right to choose or refuse abortion care, prohibit the criminalization of self-managed abortion, and protect health care professionals against employer discrimination based on their participation in providing abortion care.

“We need lasting protection for reproductive health access now, no matter what happens in Congress, in the states, or in the courts,” said Grosso.

Councilmembers Anita Bonds, Elissa Silverman, Brianne Nadeau, Mary Cheh, and Charles Allen joined Grosso as a co-introducer of the bill, as well Councilmember Brandon Todd, chairperson of the committee to which the legislation was referred.

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Councilmember Grosso re-introduces legislation to ban the use of “gay/trans panic” defenses in D.C.

For Immediate Release:
September 17, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Councilmember Grosso re-introduces legislation to ban the use of “gay/trans panic” defenses in D.C.

Washington, D.C. – At the D.C. Council’s first legislative meeting after summer recess, Councilmember David Grosso re-introduced his legislation to counter the use of “gay/trans panic” defenses, which seek to utilize the stigma associated with the sexual orientation, gender identity, or other identity expression of victims to excuse violent crimes.

“I am a passionate supporter of the human rights of criminal defendants, a fair and swift trial, and for alternatives to incarceration,” said Grosso. “All of that is possible without resorting to a defense that is premised on bias against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender individuals.”

The Tony Hunter and Bella Evangelista Panic Defense Prohibition Act of 2019 would curtail the availability and effectiveness of defenses that seek to partially or completely excuse crimes such as murder and assault on the grounds that the victim’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or other inherent identity, is to blame for the defendant’s violent action. The bill also requires an anti-bias jury instruction in criminal trials if requested by the prosecutor or the defendant.

“The bill makes one thing clear: a defense that exploits bias is simply unacceptable,” said Grosso.

Councilmember Grosso originally introduced the bill in February 2017 as the Secure a Fair and Equitable (SAFE) Trial Act. Over the summer, Grosso worked closely with LGBTQ advocates ahead of re-introduction and fulfilled their request to rename the bill in honor of Tony Hunter, a gay man, and Bella Evangelista, a transgender woman.

“LGBTQ+ panic defenses have long stood as a symbol of dangerous and outdated thinking,” said D’Arcy Kemnitz, Executive Director of the National LGBT Bar Association. “The Tony Hunter and Bella Evangelista Panic Defense Prohibition Act of 2019 would send a clear message: Discrimination has no validity in the courtroom.”

“Victims of crime, their families, and their communities experience enough trauma without having to shoulder the blame for their murder or assault or watch their loved one’s name maligned as they seek justice,” said David Mariner, Executive Director of The D.C. Center for the LGBT Community. “I greatly appreciate Councilmember Grosso’s continued engagement with the LGBTQ+ community on this issue and for naming the bill in honor of Tony Hunter and Bella Evangelista–two victims whose cases were marred by the discriminatory statements that are used in the making of these panic defenses.”

“This bill would prohibit the misuse of a victim’s identity as an excuse for perpetrating a murder or violence. The ‘panic’ defense attempts to justify a criminal act motivated by a defendant’s racism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, ableism or other bias. This Act is a necessary step to address an anachronism in our legal system that demeans and devalues the lives of vulnerable people. These defenses simply have no place in our justice system and it is time for them to go,” said Sasha Buchert, Senior Attorney at Lambda Legal.

In August, the Washington Post reported that D.C. saw the highest number of bias-motivated attacks last year and had the highest per capita hate-crime rate of any major city in the country.

“In this time of heightened rhetoric of hate and violence, it is incredibly important that we act to eliminate bias whenever we can. I appreciate the renewed grassroots support for this legislation, including the many letters and resolutions Advisory Neighborhood Commissions have recently approved, and urge the Council to move swiftly,” said Grosso.

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

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PARCC scores continue to demonstrate improvement

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

PARCC scores continue to demonstrate improvement

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), chairperson of the Committee on Education, on the release of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) scores from assessments administered in the 2018-2019 school year:

“The PARCC results released today demonstrate that public education in the District of Columbia continues to improve. I appreciate the hard work of educators across the District of Columbia whose dedication to our students’ success has produced these positive results.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that every student, regardless of race, disability, or other factor, completes their education prepared for a bright future; and while today’s results show some improvements, we still have more work to do in order to fulfill that responsibility. The data we gain from these assessments will provide us with valuable information about where our focus needs to be in order to continue our progress and put every student in the best position to succeed.”

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Councilmember Grosso introduces bills to strengthen safe passage to school and support students on extended medical leave

For Immediate Release:
July 10, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Councilmember Grosso introduces bills to strengthen safe passage to school and support students on extended medical leave

Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, yesterday introduced two bills to support students’ academic success by improving safe passage to school and reducing barriers to academic instruction when medical conditions require them to be away from school for extended periods of time.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that our students feel safe from the moment they step out of their home until they return from school at the end of the day,” Grosso said. “Unfortunately, our city has experienced far too many shootings near our schools in just this past year which threatens our students’ sense of safety and negatively impacts their ability to learn.”

According to research conducted by Guns & America, 177 of the 286 shootings in the District of Columbia occurred within a 1,000-foot-radius of a school campus. Most of these incidents were concentrated near schools on the east end of the city.

The Safe Passage to School Expansion Act of 2019 establishes an Office of Safe Passage charged with improving the safety of students on their way to and from school through the creation of a five-year plan, enhanced agency coordination, grant making, and data collection. It also requires the Mayor to provide a shuttle bus from Metro stations to DCPS and public charter schools with the fewest transportation options.

“With continuous and sustained safe passage programming, I believe our students, schools, and communities will be safer and our students will be in a better position to succeed academically,” Grosso said.

Grosso also introduced legislation to protect the right to an education for students who are absent from school for an extended period of time due to physical or psychological reasons.

“Students in the District of Columbia have a right to an education even when they are unable to attend school for long periods of time due to medical reasons. However, it has become clear that D.C. is not always fulfilling that responsibility to our students,” Grosso said.

Research conducted by Councilmember Grosso’s office found major shortcomings across sectors in the provision of home and hospital instruction services to students.

At DCPS, many parents are unfamiliar with their home hospital instruction program. There is no transparent process for determining a child’s eligibility, no clear mechanism for appealing a decision, and no basic public data about the program.

Further, students who are admitted into the Psychiatric Institute of Washington or St. Elizabeth’s Hospital do not receive any instruction at all. It is also unclear if all public charter schools have a program in place, what the requirements are, or if they are in line with best practices.

The Students’ Right to Home or Hospital Instruction Act of 2019 requires every local education agency to adopt and implement a home or hospital instruction program that provides academic instruction and support to students who have been or will be absent from their school of enrollment for 10 or more consecutive or cumulative school days due to a physical or psychological condition. It also creates an appeal process to be administered by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.

“This long overdue legislation sets basic expectations for local education agencies to ensure they are meeting their responsibility to educate our students,” Grosso said.

Councilmembers Robert White, Brianne Nadeau, Mary Cheh, Brandon Todd, and Trayon White joined Grosso as co-introducers of both bills.

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Councilmember Grosso calls on Councilmember Evans to resign from the D.C. Council

For Immediate Release:
July 8, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Councilmember Grosso calls on Councilmember Evans to resign from the D.C. Council

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso regarding Councilmember Evans’ latest dishonesty to the Council about the nature of his relationship with lobbyist Bill Jarvis:

“Tomorrow, the Council will consider resolutions to remove Councilmember Jack Evans as chairperson of the Finance and Revenue Committee and hire a law firm to conduct an investigation into his potential violations of the Council’s Code of Conduct. While I appreciate that the Council is finally acting to take Councilmember Evans’ misconduct seriously, it is frustrating that it has taken us this long to act to protect the Council’s reputation and hold our colleague accountable.

“Regardless of the actions we take tomorrow, given new revelations over the weekend of Councilmember Evans’ dishonesty, I believe the public trust in Councilmember Evans is irreparable and it is in the best interest of the Council and the residents of the District of Columbia that Jack Evans resign as the Ward 2 Councilmember. Short of that, I will be offering an amendment that would also remove him from all committees until the conclusion of this investigation.

“Last week, Councilmember Evans attempted to present his case to Councilmembers in response to the release of a memo from a law firm hired by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to investigate Evans. This memo illustrated that Mr. Evans was not forthcoming and not truthful with his colleagues and the public about the findings of the WMATA investigation.

“My colleagues and I asked many questions, including the nature of the relationship between Mr. Evans and his consulting firm NSE Consulting with lobbyist Bill Jarvis. Councilmember Evans maintained that Mr. Jarvis was merely a long-time friend who helped file the paperwork creating NSE Consulting. However, over the weekend The Washington Post ran a story contradicting Mr. Evans’ claims yet again, summarizing e-mails demonstrating that Mr. Jarvis acted on behalf of the firm by negotiating contracts with potential clients.

“It is no longer possible to trust anything that Councilmember Evans has told us since this ordeal began. Councilmember Evans lied about what happened with the WMATA report, and now he’s lying about the nature of his relationship with a well-known lobbyist, Mr. Jarvis. We must now question votes and actions he has taken on the Council during his many years as chairperson of the Finance and Revenue Committee, and particularly during the past decade in which he has not once recused himself from a Council vote.

“Especially troubling is his rush to legalize sports wagering and to sole-source the contract to ensure his business partner’s client remains the incumbent vendor. The relationship between Councilmember Evans and Intralot’s lobbyist Bill Jarvis only reinforces my view that we should disapprove the proposed $215 million lottery and sports wagering contract, decouple the two issues, and open both to competition.

“This is an unfortunate situation of our own making. The Council failed to address the allegations of Councilmember Evans’ corruption, conflicts of interest, and misconduct when they first surfaced in early 2018. At that time I privately requested that Chairman Mendelson create an ad hoc committee made up of five Councilmembers to investigate. I re-iterated those calls in the subsequent months as new allegations and information came to light. The Chairman still has not appointed an ad hoc committee and has indicated that he is unlikely to do so until the fall.

“Rather than investigating these allegations at the first hint of wrongdoing, it has taken the work of the press to bring Councilmember Evans’ conflicts and dishonesty to light. We are continually distracted by new allegations of wrongdoing or new information that casts doubt on Councilmember Evans’ honesty. Who knows what else this week will bring? Further distraction can be avoided if Councilmember Evans takes the appropriate action by resigning from the Council.”

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Councilmember Grosso reiterates need for the D.C. Council to conduct a full investigation of Councilmember Evans and calls for the removal of Evans from all committees

For Immediate Release:
June 21, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Councilmember Grosso reiterates need for the D.C. Council to conduct a full investigation of Councilmember Evans and calls for the removal of Evans from all committees

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso on the ethical issues plaguing Councilmember Jack Evans:

"Councilmember Evans’ ethical lapses have created a terrible distraction for the Council of the District of Columbia and it is preventing this body from moving forward with its work in a manner that instills trust and confidence in the public. The Council has abdicated its responsibility to conduct an investigation of one of its members–to its own detriment. We cannot continue to incrementally sanction Councilmember Evans based on a slow trickle of information from media outlets. Only a full investigation will provide Councilmembers with the necessary information to act appropriately and with finality.

"Chairman Mendelson must appoint an ad hoc committee to fully investigate Councilmember Evans and Councilmember Evans should be removed from all Committees while that investigation moves forward."

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Councilmember Grosso calls on Councilmember Evans to resign from WMATA Board and for the D.C. Council to conduct a full investigation

For Immediate Release:
June 20, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Councilmember Grosso calls on Councilmember Evans to resign from WMATA Board and for the D.C. Council to conduct a full investigation

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso on recent news reports of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's ethics investigation into Councilmember Jack Evans:

"Councilmember Jack Evans’ reputation and ability to faithfully represent the people of the District of Columbia to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority are beyond repair and he should resign from the Board of Directors immediately.

"Councilmember Evans has represented the citizens of the District of Columbia on the WMATA Board since 2015. In that time, he has 'knowingly' engaged in 'a pattern of conduct in which Evans attempted to and did help his friends and clients and served their interests' rather than the interests of WMATA or D.C. residents. Worse still, his attempt to obfuscate WMATA’s Ethics Committee’s findings have tarnished the District’s reputation in the eyes of our partner jurisdictions. There are 12 other members of the Council who could bring a strong, ethical, diverse, and respected voice to the WMATA Board and begin to repair our critical regional relationships.

"Furthermore, Councilmember Evans’ actions throughout the WMATA ethics investigation and his statements this week have called into question his honesty. His entire strategy is to avoid public accountability for his actions. By eschewing an ad hoc committee to investigate Councilmember Evans’ potential violation of the Council’s Code of Conduct in favor of a mere reprimand and minor committee reassignments, the Council has abdicated its responsibility to hold its members accountable.

"If the WMATA Ethics Committee can investigate without interference from federal authorities, the Council should do the same and hold Councilmember Evans accountable. I grow increasingly concerned that our failure to conduct a thorough and full investigation will allow further media reports of Councilmember Evans’ behavior to distract the Council from its work on behalf of the residents of the District of Columbia and corrode the public trust.

"The people of the District of Columbia deserve a full accounting of the misuse of his public office and potential violations of the Council’s Code of Conduct. I urge Chairman Mendelson to immediately appoint an ad hoc committee to carry out this task."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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