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March Newsletter #1: Preparing for the Release of the Fiscal Year 2025 Budget

March 8, 2024


We’ve officially wrapped up agency performance oversight hearings and are gearing up for the release of the proposed Fiscal Year 2025 Budget later this month. Thank you to the public witnesses who volunteered their time to testify during these past few weeks, and the agency directors and leaders who provided vital information regarding their work. While February is the official time for annual performance reviews, I believe that oversight should occur year-round and I will continue to interact with the agencies outside of this season.  

While there have been many legislative updates this week, I would like to highlight the passage of two bills I introduced. The first to pass at the Council's March 5th meeting was the Extended Students Right to Home or Hospital Instruction Amendment Act of 2023, which will help ensure that students who are pregnant can continue with their education during post-partum recovery or if they have prebirth complications. Check out this story from Sarah Kim for DCist/WAMU about the legislation’s impact. The second of my bills that passed at that meeting was the Restaurant Revitalization and DRAM Shop Clarification Amendment Act of 2023, which includes legislation I introduced with Councilmember Brooke Pinto to reform our liquor liability laws in DC. Catherine Ferrando, one of the owners of the Black Cat on the U St Corridor, wrote more about the impact of this bill, which you can check out here.

I hope to see some of you in-person at one of my upcoming community office hours events. Our first one at the Lillan Huff/Lamond-Riggs Library this past week was a hit! This week, on Wednesday, March 13, I will be at the Cleveland Park Library beginning at 10:30am. More details below.  

In Service,

Christina Henderson

Councilmember At-Large

Chairperson, Committee on Health


                                                                                                                                                   Key Legislative Updates

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Final Vote for Extended Students’ Right to Home or Hospital Instruction Amendment Act of 2023

The Extended Students Right to Home or Hospital Instruction Amendment Act of 2023 , which Councilmember Henderson introduced, was passed unanimously during its second vote on March 5. It will now head to Mayor Bowser for Mayoral Review. The bill adds pre-birth complications, childbirth, and postpartum recovery to the list of health conditions which render a student eligible for home or hospital instruction, allowing students with pregnancy related health issues to keep up with their education. 

Final Vote for Secure DC

Secure DC was approved on second vote, and amendments to the law that were approved included: prevention of the omission of police officer’s names from the documents during adverse action proceedings; requirement that the Executive Office of the Mayor develops and publishes a Comprehensive Public Safety Plan, and an expansion of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council’s study regarding pre-trial detention so that juvenile detainment is also covered; threshold for felony first-degree theft to be raised from $500 to $1000; clarification to the anti-masking provision that protects those wearing masks for religious reasons, First Amendment activities, and employment; DNA collection after someone who is charged with a violent felony or sexual assault misdemeanor and a judge has determined probable cause. After the mayoral review period, there is a 60-day Congressional review period before the bill becomes law. 

Final Vote for Restaurant Revitalization and DRAM Shop Clarification Amendment Act of 2023

The Restaurant Revitalization and DRAM Shop Clarification Amendment Act of 2023 passed second vote during the Council’s legislative meeting. The bill includes portions of a liquor liability reform bill that Councilmember Henderson introduced with Councilmember Brooke Pinto that aims to reduce insurance costs. Amendments to the bill include mandating disclosure of service fees, capping service fees at 20%, and protecting restaurants from some lawsuits.


                                                                                                                                     Budget Oversight Hearing Schedule

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                                                                                                                                     Performance Oversight Roundtables

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On Tuesday, February 27, The Committee on Executive Administration and Labor held a Performance Oversight Hearing on the Department of Employment Services (DOES). Topics covered included the Middle School Career Exploration Pilot Emergency Amendment Act of 2023, the Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program and its evaluation, the balance of the paid family leave fund, and the new unemployment insurance website’s performance.  

The Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety held a Performance Oversight Hearing on the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice which was also held on Tuesday, February 27. During the hearing, the committee questioned the Deputy Mayor on various issues including funding for the Safe Passage program, how information is shared between Safe Passage workers’ reports and school leaders, their commitment better incorporate Charter School leaders into the Safe Passage information-sharing process, the status of the DC Parole Board and why the effort to establish one in the District was paused, the retesting of 11 years of forensic evidence from the Department of Forensic Science, and their plans to fill public safety cluster agency leadership vacancies.  

On Tuesday, February 27, The Committee of the Whole also held a Performance Oversight Hearing on the University of the District of Columbia (UDC), DC Public Charter School Board, DC State Board of Education (SBOE), Office of the Student Advocate, Office of the Ombudsman for Public Education, and the District of Columbia State Athletic Association.  Some of the issues the Committee focused on included the Early Literacy Task Force Recommendations, the status of the SBOE’s work on graduation requirements, administering emergency medication including the ability to do so during non-regular school hours, student attendance and truancy, UDC’s Master of Social Work program, and UDC’s fundraising efforts.  

On Wednesday, February 28, the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety held a Performance Oversight Hearing on the Office of the Attorney General (OAG). At the hearing the OAG’s jurisdiction over juvenile crimes for youth under 18 was discussed, as well as the agency’s decisions regarding prosecution and alternatives to prosecution. Further topics included how the OAG enforces agreements made by youth and their family to complete the Alternatives to Court Experience (ACE), questions to the Attorney General concerning the OAG and Department of Human Services roles in the program’s implementation and methods for holding people to their agreement to participate in the ACE program, the rise in consumer mediation requests and settlements, and the status of the approval of new emergency regulations for the Microenterprise Kitchen licenses that will allow street vendors to obtain the licenses they need to be in compliance with the law.  

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The Committee of the Whole held a Performance Oversight Hearing on the Deputy Mayor of Education, DC Public Schools, and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, on Wednesday, February 28 where the public testified about their concerns with our education agencies for over 12 hours. On Friday, March 1, the Committee of the Whole reconvened this hearing to receive testimony from the government witnesses of these agencies.  

Topics with the DME focused on Out of School Time grants, medical coverage during after-school hours for students, the performance of Safe Passage, and update on the boundary study.

Discussions with OSSE focused on DC Special Education busses improvement and the efficiency of bus routes, compliance requirements for early childhood educator pay, making sure early childhood educators are receiving their deserved pay, and the FAFSA delay and its implications for DC students.  

DCPS areas of interest included Banneker High School’s increased enrollment and staffing levels, when a decision on the Duke Ellington contract will be reached, food services and the quality of food provided by some vendors, and questions regarding increasing self-operating kitchens.  

The Committee on Business and Economic Development held a Performance Oversight Hearing on the Deputy Mayor on Planning and Economic Development on Wednesday, February 28. Here, government witnesses spoke about issues including updates on the development projects like Skyland Town Center, the Fletcher-Johnson project site, Macmillan, food access in Wards 7 and 8, including plans for future grocery stores in these areas, ways to increase the food access fund, DMPED’s work regarding the retention of our sports teams, and vacant downtown office space.  

On Thursday, February 29, the Committee on Housing of the Department of Human Services held a Performance Oversight Hearing for the Department of Human Services (DHS) and heard from government witness, Director Laura Green Zeilinger. Issues discussed included the status and timeline for the Summer EBT program which will provide $40 in grocery funds each month per student while school is out, the rollout of a simplified application for SNAP, current staffing challenges including relying on overtime rather than filling vacancies, public benefits-related hearings with the Office of Administrative Hearings during FY23, -purpose housing vouchers for returning citizens and LGBTQ residents, protocol to ensure that shelter residents receive medically appropriate meals, DHS’s contract evaluation and review procedures for critical food services and security vendors, procedures and coordination with the OAG regarding youth referred to the ACE diversion program.  

The Committee on Facilities and Family Services held a Performance Oversight Hearing for DC Department of General Services on Thursday, February 29, issues discussed included the Roosevelt Stay health suite build out, the completion of the Texas Avenue Dog Park, Infrastructure Academy’s completion date, the backlog of Department of Parks and Recreation work orders, and DCPS swing space needs for schools undergoing construction or modernization.  



                                                                                                                                              Christina in the Community

                                                                                                                                              March Madness, March 6

Councilmember Henderson met with early childhood education advocates and discussed the impact of the Pay Equity Fund and credentialing during her March Madness office hours.  

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                                                                                                                                  Hear the Crunch, DC Hunger Solutions

On March 6, Councilmember Henderson and staff celebrated the benefits of school breakfast for DC Hunger Solutions’ “Hear the Crunch” campaign.  

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                                                                                                                                    Early Childhood Educators Meeting

Advocates for early childhood educators met with Councilmember Henderson to discuss early childhood education in DC, compensation, and staffing shortages.  


                                                                                                          In Case You Missed It: Councilmember Henderson in the News

The Collins Council Report: Right to Hospital/Home Instruction, Restaurant Service Fees, and the Opioid Emergency, 3/5/2024, Sam P.K. Collins for the Washington Informer

D.C. Housing Authority director says agency’s troubles worse than imagined, 3/3/2023, Steve Thompson for the Washington Post

The Debate Over Secure DC is Finally Over. Will Any of It Matter if Cops and Prosecutors Don’t Do Their Jobs? 3/5/2024, Alex Koma for Washington City Paper  


                                                                                                                                            Constituent Service Corner

March Madness

Councilmember Christina Henderson will be hosting Community Service Office Hours in March. Stay tuned for updates.  

March 6 10:30A - 12:00P - Lillian J. Huff/Lamond-Riggs Library

March 13 10:30A -12:00P – Cleveland Park Library

March 18 9:30A - 11:00A - Highlands Café and Grill (Ward 7 location)

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  • 2024 DC Teacher Solutions Summit is Saturday, March 16, from 10:30A to 2P, the summit is a great opportunity to engage with and learn from DC educators about their proposed solutions to pressing issues in DC education: from school safety to experiential learning, chronic absenteeism, global citizenship, mental health and more. The event will be held at Open Gov Hub at 1100 13th St. NW, 8th floor and includes free childcare and a great lunch! To register, click here.  

Information on Services

  • DPW Helping Hand Neighborhood Cleanup: Residents can apply to coordinate a Helping Hand Neighborhood Clean Up. The program supplies toolkits and trash bags to those who apply. Applications are open now and can be viewed, here.  
  • Get Free Tax Prep: Free tax preparation for seniors is now available at eight DC Public libraries until April 15. Assistance is by appointment only. View the locations, here.  
  • Know Your Rights When Making Purchases Through SNAP:
  • SNAP Retailers Cannot:
  • Charge a transaction fee to consumers paying with a SNAP card;
  • Set a minimum transaction amount for qualified SNAP purchases;
  • Require a minimum SNAP card balance in order to make a qualified purchase;
  • Require SNAP users to make a SNAP card balance inquiry before making a purchase.
  • If you know of SNAP retailers in the District that are not following the law, please report it to the DC Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) Mediation Program by:
  • Calling OAG’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (202) 442-9828;
  • Emailing; or
  • Submitting a consumer complaint online here.

  • Medicaid Renewal, Don’t Wait to Update: All DC residents with health coverage through Medicaid, Alliance, or the Immigrant Children’s Program must renew their coverage. Please visit the District Direct website to update your address, phone number, and/or email so that the Department of Healthcare Finance (DHCF) knows where to send your Medicaid renewal letter. If you require assistance, please call the Public Benefits Center at 202-727-5355.

Covid Tests

  • Free At-Home COVID-19 Tests: DC Public Libraries have at-home tests available for pickup! For a full list of library locations with test kits available, click here.
  • Free At-Home COVID-19 Tests Continue: The federal government will continue to distribute free COVID-19 tests directly to homes. This ensures that free COVID-19 tests are available to marginalized and uninsured communities. Order up to four COVID-19 at-home tests per household here.

Prevention Services

  • DC Prevention Centers provide education on drugs and substance abuse, prevention strategy training for youth, families, schools and communities, prevention material distribution, and tobacco use prevention programs. For a map of prevention centers in each ward, click here.
  • Hillcrest Children and Family Center (915 Rhode Island Avenue NW) is a participant in the DC Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment Expansion Program (ASTEP). For neighbors in need of intensive out-patient group, individual and family services, assessments, and basic education activities to delay the onset of experimentation with drugs and alcohol, you can click here to make an appointment or call at 202-232-2300.