The DC City Council unanimously passed a consensus emergency bill in response to the COVID epidemic currently impacting the District and the nation.
In an extraordinarily rapid and thorough manner, the Council solicited and received input from the public, individual Council offices and committees, as well as the executive branch and the Chief Financial Officer. An initial draft bill was assembled Thursday, and was passed just five days later. As emergency legislation, the bill will immediately become law as soon as it is signed by the Mayor. It will remain in effect for 90 days, though a Temporary bill, which will require a second Council vote, will ensure it remains in effect for 270 days.
Moving forward, the Council will pass additional COVID response measures as needed to respond to the crisis. The measure passed at the most recent meeting was comprehensive, but is not intended as the final word on the topic.
The bill passed at the most recent meeting has, among its primary measures, the following:
- extends unemployment compensation to those unemployed due to COVID
- prohibits evictions of residential and commercial tenants as well as late fees
- prohibits utility shut-offs for non-payment
- extends public benefit programs such as the Healthcare Alliance, TANF, and SNAP
- creates a small business grant program to assist nonprofit organizations and small contractors who do not qualify for unemployment insurance
- places limits on price gouging and stockpiling
- allows for delivery and carry-out sales by restaurants of beer/wine, if sold along with prepared food (pending written restaurant-by-restaurant approval by the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration)
- delays retail sales tax payments to the government by stores, restaurants, and other businesses
- extends deadlines/expirations of corporate tax filings, drivers licenses, professional licenses, etc.
- allows the Council to meet virtually
- provides meeting flexibility to ANCs, boards, and commissions
- allows flexibility in FOIA and Open Meetings
- delays the submission date for the Mayor’s budget to May 6
A full listing of all votes taken at the most recent meeting can be seen here.
The Council’s next scheduled Legislative Meeting will occur on April 7. It will most likely be held virtually, with Councilmembers and the public attending electronically.