The first quarter of Council Period 25 has gone by extremely fast and kept the team busy. As we transition to the summer recess and prepare for the legislative work ahead this Fall, we’ve been reflecting on the last 7.5 months. Here’s a quick look at what’s happened:
January to July 15 At-a-Glance:
This week, the Council had its final Legislative Meeting before summer recess. In my last newsletter, I wrote about the rising incidents of gun violence and crime throughout the District and legislation that was being worked on to address the issue. Tuesday, we voted 12-1 to approve new public safety legislation, the Prioritizing Public Safety Emergency Amendment Act of 2023. I worked with the chairperson of the Committee on Public Safety and Judiciary to make some changes to that bill, and my full remarks from that meeting can be found here. I’m continuing to develop innovative solutions that keep all District residents safe.
The weather this weekend is anticipated to be a doozy. Please stay hydrated and cool. There are lots of places you can head to this weekend to beat the heat. This newsletter is full of information about what I’ve been up to. If you want to read ahead, make sure you check out the Constituent Service Corner with information about awesome upcoming community events (free shredding, DPR Late Night Hype continues, National Building Museum Ward Days and more) and several grant programs that are now accepting applications.
Councilmember Henderson’s legislation Fairness in Renting Clarification Amendment Act of 2023 was approved by the Committee on Housing on Thursday, June 22. This legislation limits the amount of fees that a housing provider may charge a prospective tenant associated with processing an application for rental housing and increases the notice period for rent increases from 30 days to 60 days. During the July 11 Legislative Meeting, the full Council approved the bill which now awaits Congressional and Mayoral approval. Read the Committee report here.
The School Student Vaccination Emergency Amendment Act of 2023 was approved. It removes the requirement that eligible students in the District of Columbia receive a vaccination against COVID-19. Since the federal and DC governments have ended the COVID Emergency, it is important to make sure that we are stressing the compliance with routine vaccinations to reduce the severity of viruses and illnesses that can impact school-aged children, such as chickenpox, measles, mumps, and polio.
The Council recess rules were amended to allow the Committee on Health to hold hearings on Medicaid redeterminations, if necessary.
NEW BILLS: This week, Councilmember Henderson introduced the Childhood Continuous Coverage Act of 2023, which would require that any child enrolled in Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or the Immigrant Children’s Program during the ages of zero to five years old will not face a redetermination or risk losing coverage under the program until the end of the month in which they turn six years old.
Councilmember Henderson also introduced two pieces of legislation aimed at streamlining accountability for those who drive dangerously on our District streets.
The Automated Traffic Enforcement Effectiveness Amendment Act of 2023 would:
The License Suspension Reform Amendment Act of 2023 would suspend the license and registration of all drivers and vehicles owned by or registered in the name of any person charged with:
Health Committee Updates
June 28- The Committees on Health and Hospital & Health Equity held a joint Roundtable on Combatting the Opioid and Fentanyl Crisis in DC. There were more than 6 hours of testimony!
Several community health workers and advocates testified during the expert and public witness portion of the roundtable. Witnesses discussed gaps in DC’s infrastructure around tracking and treating substance abuse disorders, how to connect with residents who don’t outwardly present as having an addiction, the impact the crisis is having on youth, and the need to treat the opioid crisis as a public health crisis. Overdoses among several other demographics were highlighted, including veterans, returning citizens, unhoused residents, and those who are entering or have recently been sent to the DC jail. There was concern raised about police raids and how they correlate to an uptick in overdoses.
During the government witness portion, Mr. Zamore, an epidemiological researcher at DC Health, shared that 85% of opioid fatalities since 2017 have been Black men and that 7 teens died of overdoses in 2022.
Dr. Diaz, the Chief Medical Examiner for DC, explained that the majority of overdoses occur in the home or that of a family member. He also said that the chemical compounds in many synthetic drugs are very similar to the real thing but that changing one element completely changes the structure and tests need a reference library (a substance that’s similar in order to create a point of reference) to detect such drugs, which means they are finding novel substances in their toxicology reports daily.
Dr. Bazron, the Director of the Department of Behavioral Health, mentioned the need for those recovering from substance use disorders to have stable housing and said that the stigma of having an addiction pushes many to shame, even though it should not. She provided an update on the newly formed Office of Opioid Abatement which has received funding certification to access the $11 million in opioid settlement funds. View the full hearing.
July 6- The Committee heard testimony on 2 bills. Watch the full hearing.
Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Amendment Act of 2023: The hearing for this bill included no public feedback. The purpose of this legislation is to amend the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Act of 2013 to expand the Director of the Department of Health's authority to disclose information related to covered substances' prescribing and dispensing. The bill allows the Director to disclose aggregate and summary data to public or private entities for statistical, research, educational, or grant application purposes. It also permits the Director to disclose information for public health surveillance to designated employees. Additionally, the bill authorizes the Director to charge a fee to offset the operational costs of disclosing certain information.
Uniform Telehealth Act of 2023: The purpose of this bill is to allow licensed health practitioners in the District to provide health care through telehealth. It also expands the circumstances under which qualified out-of-state practitioners are permitted to deliver telehealth services to patients located in the District. The COVID-19 pandemic expanded access to physical and mental health services for District residents, which included guidelines on how providers can and should practice in DC, and with this bill the standard of care must still be met. The hearing for this bill included 7 public witnesses, all in favor of the bill. There was brief discussion among witnesses relating to the certificate of need.
July 13- The Committee held a hearing on 3 bills. Watch the full hearing.
Access to Emergency Albuterol and Glucagon Amendment Act of 2023: This bill had 3 witnesses who testified at the hearing. The bill would require the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to create an action plan that authorizes schools to possess and administer undesignated albuterol (asthma) and glucagon (diabetes) medication in emergencies. It would also require schools to have at least 2 doses of each drug and require at least 2 school staff to be trained in administering these drugs. Councilmember Henderson asked about data around the benefits of looking for triggers of asthma attacks. Witnesses were in favor of schools being able to supply this medication for students, as it can eliminate the need for a visit to the Emergency Room.
Ambulatory Surgical Facility Amendment Act of 2023 would add certain definitions to the Healthcare and Community Residence Facility, Hospice and Home Care Licensure Act of 1983 and remove the requirement that regulations governing ambulatory surgical facilities list all procedures that can be performed only in such facilities, if not performed at a hospital or maternity center. During the hearing, Dr. Floyd from Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, testified that language in the bill should be amended to clarify that procedures such as abortions, colonoscopies, and colposcopies do not need to be considered “surgery” because they do not call for the heightened environmental controls that surgeries require. They can be provided in a non-surgical facility.
Health Professional Licensing Boards Residency Requirement Amendment Act of 2023 would require that at least 50% of Health Professional Licensing Board positions designated for professional members be filled by District residents at the time of their appointments and while they are members of the board. Additionally, it requires that the professional members of each Board be licensed for the health occupation regulated by the Board on which they sit and engaged in the practice of that health occupation in the District for at least 3 years preceding their appointment. It also requires that members who are not District residents be engaged in the practice of the health occupation regulated by the Board in the District while they are members of the Board. A witness representing the Board of Dentistry highlighted the need for more Dentists to serve on the Board, as none of the current members have first-hand knowledge of the issues and concerns faced by DC-based practitioners.
Upcoming Health Hearings
All hearings will resume after September 15, when Council returns from legislative recess. All past Committee hearings can be viewed on Councilmember Henderson's YouTube page at http://www.youtube.com/@CMCHenderson.
Christina in the Community
A Discussion on Environmental Health and Justice in DC Councilmember Henderson joined Attorney General Brian Schwalb at Lamond-Riggs Library this week to discuss environmental health concerns experienced by residents. The group discussed illegal dumping, housing code inspections, lead pipe removal efforts in DC, engaging youth while ensuring they are safe from dangerous drivers, and the inequitable average temperatures throughout various neighborhoods around the city.
Palisades 4th of July Parade Team Henderson joined Councilmember Frumin’s Team to march at the Annual 4th of July Parade. Residents enjoyed engaging with staff and there were dozens of smiling children ready to get their lollipops!
Transportation Planning Board’s Commuter Connections Councilmember Henderson served as the mistress of ceremonies at The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ Commuter Connections Awards program. The group recognized five local employers and organizations for their outstanding commute alternative programs at the 26th annual Employer Recognition Awards ceremony at the National Press Club.
Martha’s Table Market Team Henderson had a blast volunteering at Martha’s Table. We spent time preparing fresh vegetables and non-perishable food items for neighbors. Martha’s Table hosts a market Monday-Friday every week. This is a vital program for residents, especially with reductions in SNAP benefits and the recent shuttering of multiple food access points in Ward 8. For more information, visit their website.
School Facilities Readiness Tour with Councilmember Lewis George Councilmember Henderson accompanied Councilmembers Lewis George and Trayon White, staff from the Department of General Services (DGS), and from District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) on a facilities walkthrough at Anacostia High School and Johnson Middle School. The Councilmembers asked each school’s Custodial Foreman about plumbing issues, security camera availability and procurement, as well as lockers for students and HVAC malfunctions. There are only 48 days until the beginning of the school year, and it is imperative that buildings are up to code and can safely welcome students, staff, and community members.
In Case You Missed It
Councilmember Henderson was featured in several articles over the past two weeks:
Constituent Services Corner
Thank you for reading! Please stay in touch.
Chief of Staff
Deputy Chief of Staff
Constituent Services Director
Senior Policy Advisor