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Constituent Service Fund Reform Amendment Act of 2019

Constituent Service Fund Reform Amendment Act of 2019

Introduced: April 2, 2019

Co-introducers: Councilmembers Charles Allen, Robert White, Elissa Silverman, Brianne Nadeau

BILL TEXT | PRESS RELEASE

Summary: To amend the Campaign Finance Act of 2011 to repeal the existing constituent-service program and related language; and to amend Chapter 3 of Title 47 of the District of Columbia Official Code to establish a government-funded constituent services program.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Today, along with Councilmembers Brianne Nadeau, Charles Allen, Elissa Silverman, and Robert White, I am introducing the Constituent Service Fund Reform Amendment Act of 2019.

Misused, Inequitable and Ethically Fraught. That’s the title of a report on the use of Constituent Service Funds by councilmembers, released last week by Public Citizen.

The report 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 our residents.

Sports tickets, branded t-shirts, membership dues, calendars, greeting cards¬–the list goes on–are just some of the items that have been purchased with funds intended to help our residents in need pay bills, buy groceries, or make funeral arrangements.

Worse than what the money is used for (or rather NOT used for) is where the money comes from.

Private donations raise the specter of pay-to-play politics, with maxed out campaign donors and those seeking government business able to further contribute financially to an elected official.

Last year, as part of the debate and passage of the Campaign Finance Reform Amendment Act of 2017, which became effective law two weeks ago, provisions to reform constituent service funds were removed at the markup.

During that debate councilmembers touted the important role these funds play in helping their constituents on a day to day basis and raised concerns about meeting constituents’ needs if we were to eliminate these funds or place restrictions on donations to them.

The bill I am introducing today would allow us to both meet those IMMEDIATE needs of constituents while also removing the undue influence of monied interests in this important work.

The legislation 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.

Elected officials will not be able to solicit donations from private donors or move unused campaign, transition, and other funds to constituent service funds, removing even the appearance of corruption from the equation.

New requirements will ensure expenditures directly benefit constituents and prohibits using funds on questionable perks like sports tickets and branded advertising.

And finally, the bill empowers the Chief Financial Officer to administer the program and approve expenditures, creating a new system of accountability and removing the burden from the Office of Campaign Finance.

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.

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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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School Based Budgeting and Transparency Act of 2019

School Based Budgeting and Transparency Act of 2019

Introduced: April 2, 2019

Co-introducers: Chairman Phil Mendelson, Councilmembers Anita Bonds, Robert White, Elissa Silverman, Brianne Nadeau, Jack Evans, Mary Cheh, Brandon Todd, Kenyan McDuffie, Charles Allen, Vincent Gray, and Trayon White

BILL TEXT | PRESS RELEASE

Summary: To amend The Uniform Per Student Funding Formula for Public Schools and Public Charter Schools Amendment Act of 1998 to require that the District of Columbia Public Schools submission be based on the cost associated at each school based on projected enrollment and include detailed information for each school’s funding, a separate line-item for at-risk funding for each school, and a narrative description of programs and services funded by at-risk funds; that the DCPS submission delineate cost of the central office attributed listed categories of students in each grade level; that the Public Charter School Board shall publish the detailed budget and end of year expenditures of each public charter school; to amend the District of Columbia School Reform Act of 1995 to require the Boards of Trustees of public charter schools to comply with Title IV of the District of Columbia Administrative Procedures Act; and to require the Office of the State Superintendent of Education to create an electronic reporting system for the public to ensure the greatest degree of clarity and comparability by laypersons of expenditures among all public schools in the District of Columbia.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Next, along with Chairman Mendelson, Councilmembers Allen, Bonds, Cheh, Evans, Gray, McDuffie, Nadeau, Silverman, Todd, R. White, T. White, I am introducing the School Based Budgeting and Transparency Act of 2019.

Over the past several years, there has been significant confusion around funding for DCPS schools. At the same time, there is less information about funding for public charter schools. The lack of information about public schools in both sectors has raised many questions around school funding cuts and transparency.

The Council and the public have had a number of conversations about the Universal Per Student Funding Formula, At-Risk Funding, and if fund allocations meant to supplement are actually supplanting.

I have long believed that we cannot have a full and meaningful conversation on this topic until we all have similar baseline information. Unfortunately, because of the disjointedness of our education system, and specifically our funding systems, we continue to have these conversations in silos.

Last year, the Committee on Education attempted to start this conversation when it approved a Budget Support Act subtitle to require the Mayor to be more transparent about how the executive formulates DCPS and schools’ budgets. Unfortunately, that language was not included in the final BSA.

This Council Period, we are attempting to start that conversation again because it is clear that the public is clamoring for a more transparent way to digest and engage with how the District of Columbia funds schools.

The School Based Budgeting and Transparency Act of 2019 attempts to bring about transparency in the following ways:

  • First, it requires DCPS use a school-based budgeting model to fund schools, as opposed to the comprehensive staffing model, and submit that to DC Council. This 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. It would also require DCPS to delineate the cost of central office in its budget submission.

  • Next, Public Charter Schools must be more transparent. It would subject charter schools to the DC Open Meetings Act. Additionally, it requires PCSB to publish both charter school budgets and school expenditures – currently, only school budgets are published. Also, the legislation makes clear that charters must delineate how at-risk funds are being spent at each school.

  • Finally, the bill requires that OSSE publish school budget expenditure information in a way that ensures the public can compare expenditures by LEA and by school in a clear manner. This gives parents and policymakers clear information and finally allows us to see across all schools how tax dollars are being spent.

By no means do I believe this is the panacea to solve all the problems around school budgets that the Council and the public have identified. I do however believe this is a place to start the conversation and I look forward to having that discussion with all stakeholders.

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FY2020 Budget Oversight Questions and Responses

Councilmember Grosso, as chairperson of the Committee on Education, has received responses to his pre-hearing budget oversight questions from D.C. Public Schools, the Public Charter School Board, D.C. Public Library, the Office of the State Superintendent for Education, the Deputy Mayor for Education, the State Board of Education, The Office of the Student Advocate, and the Office of the Ombudsman for Public Education.

You can find the Committee's questions and agencies responses here.

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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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Michael A. Stoops Anti-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2019

Michael A. Stoops Anti-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2019

Introduced: March 19, 2019

Co-introducers: Councilmember Robert White, Mary Cheh, Brandon Todd, Brianne Nadeau

BILL TEXT

Summary: To amend the Human Rights Act of 1977 to protect individuals experiencing homelessness from discrimination.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Thank you Chairman Mendelson.

A survey conducted by the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) and George Washington University in 2014 found that out of 142 individuals experiencing homelessness, 132 claimed they had been discriminated against because of their homeless status.

While there isn’t more recent data on this issue, virtually all homeless individuals experience some form of discrimination as they go about their everyday lives.

Today, I am introducing the Michael A. Stoops Anti-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2019.

This bill amends the Human Rights Act of 1977 to add homelessness as a protected class to help eradicate discrimination for individuals experiencing homelessness in housing, employment, public accommodation, educational institutions, public service, and commercial space.

It is named the Michael A. Stoops Anti-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2019 to honor the life and legacy of a person who was a long-time advocate for the rights of individuals experiencing homelessness and a tireless warrior for overcoming income inequality.

During his 67 years of life, Michael was able to accomplish many great feats on behalf of individuals experiencing homelessness.

In the 1980s, he help founded the National Coalition for the Homeless.

He fasted and slept on the street in order to pressure Congress to pass the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, a federal law that provides funding for homeless shelter programs, and is the primary piece of federal legislation related to the education of children and youth experiencing homelessness.

Later, he pushed the standards of living for homeless individuals by organizing over 100,000 people to join the “End Homelessness Now! Rally”.

In the 1990s, Michael co-found the North American Street Newspaper Association (or “NASNA”). NASNA is a nonprofit trade association of street newspapers that helps to support 110 papers in 40 countries, including our very own local newspaper, Street Sense, where Michael served on the board from 2003 to 2014.

Unfortunately, in 2015 tragedy struck. Michael suffered a massive stroke, which caused him to be wheelchair bound and unable to speak. However, he still remained dedicated to his life’s mission until he passed away in 2017.

Passing this legislation will help eliminate discrimination against homeless people simply because they are homeless.

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District of Columbia Public Schools Student Technology Equity Act of 2019

District of Columbia Public Schools Student Technology Equity Act of 2019

Introduced: March 19, 2019

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

BILL TEXT | PRESS RELEASE

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

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

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

Last summer, I heard from students at my youth-led education town halls who shared that the access to adequate technology in their schools was a major hinderance to their academic pursuits.

Slow and outdated computers, laptops missing keys, spotty Wi-Fi, and students forced to share devices are just a few of the complaints students have voiced.

In 2019, this is unacceptable.

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

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

The DCPS Student Technology Equity Act of 2019 requires the mayor to periodically convene a steering committee of DCPS, the Chief Technology Officer, educational stakeholders, and information technology experts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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District of Columbia Public Library Partnership and Sponsorship Amendment Act of 2019

District of Columbia Public Library Partnership and Sponsorship Amendment Act of 2019

Introduced: March 19, 2019

BILL TEXT

Summary: To amend An Act To establish and provide for the maintenance of a free public library and reading room in the District of Columbia to permit the District of Columbia Public Library to promote, endorse, co-sponsor, solicit for, or collaborate with charitable organizations whose sole mission is to support the public library; and to engage in certain revenue-generating activities.

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Grosso urges quick implementation of protected bike lanes on 6th and 9th Streets NW

Councilmember David Grosso sent a letter last week to Director of the D.C. Department of Transportation expressing his disappointment at the lack of progress of protected bike lanes on 6th Street and 9th Street NW between Florida and Pennsylvania Avenues, NW.

Changes in the area, including the reopening of MLK Library and removal of bike and bus lanes, necessitate a speedy implementation of both these protect bike lanes to improve mobility and safety for cyclists on corridors that touch Wards 1, 2, and 6.

You can read the full letter below and here.

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Interagency Council on Behavioral Health Establishment Amendment Act of 2019

Interagency Council on Behavioral Health Establishment Amendment Act of 2019

Introduced: March 5, 2019

Co-introducers: Councilmembers Elissa Silverman, Brianne Nadeau, Brandon Todd, and Kenyan McDuffie

BILL TEXT | PRESS RELEASE

Summary: To amend The Department of Behavioral Health Establishment Act of 2013 to establish an Interagency Council on Behavioral Health and to describe its members, powers, and duties.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Today, along with my colleagues Councilmembers Brianne Nadeau, Elissa Silverman, Brandon Todd, and Kenyan McDuffie, I am introducing the Interagency Council on Behavioral Health Establishment Amendment Act of 2019.

Modeled after the Interagency Council on Homelessness, this legislation establishes an Interagency Council on Behavioral Health for the purpose of facilitating cross-sector, cabinet-level leadership in planning, policymaking, program development, and budgeting for a culturally competent, outcome-based, behavioral health system of care.

Just last year, the Office of the Auditor and the Council for Court Excellence completed a robust report focused on the Department of Behavioral Health's work with justice-involved individuals and the criminal justice system broadly.

The report was revealing, highlighting enormous gaps in service and raising serious questions about agency leadership.

It was the culmination of a series of perplexing and deeply troubling events—a trend that unfortunately continues.

In January, federal officials launched an investigation into the Department's mishandling of millions of dollars awarded over the past 2-years to treat opioid addiction and reduce fatal overdoses—money that was never actually spent to that effect.

That audit was just the most recent example of inexcusable lapses on the part of DBH.

In my opinion, we have absolutely failed in the provision of quality behavioral health services for our residents.

There has been an inadequate response to the opioid crisis specifically and almost no prioritization of substance abuse treatment generally; delayed or non-payment to our dedicated community-based providers; the closure of several Core Service agencies; a failure of the iCAMS billing system; poor rollout of the School-Based Mental Health program as well as the continuing challenge to implement it with fidelity; and of course the many issues highlighted within the CCE report.

Further, DBH has been without permanent leadership since November as the Director of DC Health is now forced to split her time between both agencies, an arrangement that is wholly untenable.

For all of these reasons, I believe now is the time to elevate, prioritize, and strengthen our behavioral health system of care.

As a city, it is imperative that we do better for our residents. In order to chart a path forward we have to be honest about our missteps, clear in our vision, and diligent in our effort to provide the highest quality care to some of the most vulnerable among us.

Through this legislation we will ensure that all of the relevant stakeholders are at the table and afforded a meaningful opportunity to shape our system and develop a comprehensive strategic plan to move us forward.

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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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FY2018 Performance Oversight Questions and Responses

Councilmember Grosso, as chairperson of the Committee on Education, has received responses to his pre-hearing performance oversight questions from D.C. Public Schools, the Public Charter School Board, D.C. Public Library, the Office of the State Superintendent for Education, the Deputy Mayor for Education, the State Board of Education, The Office of the Student Advocate, and the Office of the Ombudsman for Public Education.

You can find the Committee's questions and agencies responses here.

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Chairperson Grosso sends follow up questions to education agencies after roundtable on improving school attendance,

Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, today sent letters to the acting D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Dr. Lewis Ferebee, the Deputy Mayor for Education Paul Kihn, and Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants Director Michelle Garcia with follow-up questions related to the joint Committee on Education/Committee of the Whole roundtable on Improving School Attendance held on January 31.

  • Read the letter sent to Acting Chancellor Lewis Ferebee here. Responses are due Feb. 22, 2019

  • Read the letter sent to Deputy Mayor Paul Kihn here. Responses are due March 1, 2019

  • Read the letter sent to Director Garcia here. Responses are due Feb. 22, 2019.

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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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Cashless Retailers Prohibition Act of 2019

Cashless Retailers Prohibition Act of 2019

Introduced: February 5, 2019

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

BILL TEXT | PRESS RELEASE

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

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Thank you Chairman Mendelson.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 By denying patrons the ability to use cash as a form of payment, businesses are effectively telling lower-income and young patrons that they are not welcome.

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

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

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

 Thank you and I welcome any co-sponsors.

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Grosso leads Council comments opposed to Trump Administration's proposed Title IX changes

Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, sent a letter signed by every member of the Council of the District of Columbia, to U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos opposing the Trump Administration’s proposed changes to Title IX enforcement for failing to properly address the realities of sexual harassment and assault in schools.

“As local elected officials, including the chairperson of the D.C. Council Committee on Education, we support a robust oversight role by the Department and we look to the Department to set the bar for ourselves and other jurisdictions in protecting our students,” the Councilmembers wrote. “The proposed rules would restrict our ability to build upon the floor that federal laws and rules should allow, thereby undermining your goal of providing greater control over these decisions to local communities.”

Last year, Grosso introduced and the Council unanimously passed the School Safety Act, which 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, including dating violence. The act also increases the requirements of what efforts D.C. Public Schools and charter schools must make to uncover past sexual misconduct of any potential employees who will have direct contact with students.

Councilmembers expressed their concerns that changes to Title IX could undermine this work, including its ability to address off-campus incidents which have on-campus effects.

“We heard consistently from schools, students and parents, and experts about the need for schools to be able to respond to incidents of abuse or harassment that happen outside of school hours or off-campus,” Councilmembers wrote, referencing testimony they heard in considering the school safety legislation. “This could include online harassment or an abuse near school that significantly disrupts students’ ability to learn. The proposed rules would contradict this by requiring schools to dismiss a complaint if the alleged conduct “did not occur within the [school’s] program or activity.”

The Council also raised concerns over language that forces schools to ignore harassment until it becomes incredibly severe, raise the bar on what is considered “deliberate indifference” to complaints of misconduct, and allow parochial schools greater freedom in claiming religious exemptions from fulfilling their Title IX responsibilities.

“Taken together, these proposed rules represent a serious misstep in the ongoing effort to address safety and stop discrimination in education. We ask that you withdraw the proposed rulemaking and reconsider the best way to ensure safety for students,” the Councilmembers concluded.

You can read the full letter below and here.

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Organ, Eye, and Tissue Donation Education Amendment Act of 2019

Organ, Eye, and Tissue Donation Education Amendment Act of 2019

Introduced: January 22, 2019

Co-introducers: Councilmember Anita Bonds

BILL TEXT

Summary: To amend the Healthy Schools Act of 2009 to require that District of Columbia Public Schools and Public Charter Schools provide education on the process of making an anatomical gift, including information about the life-saving and life-enhancing effects of organ, eye, and tissue donation to help students become better informed.

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