Fall has fallen! The leaves that are left have graced our city with vibrant hues of reds, yellows, and oranges. The weather is finally beginning to match the season, reminding us that change is inevitable. October has been busy as the Council prepares for the end of the Council Period. Many committees have been holding hearings and markups to ensure passage of legislation before the end of the year. But that hasn’t stopped me from introducing several bills that address the upkeep of our parks and recreation facilities, bolstering community land trusts, protecting renters, and expanding transportation access, which you can learn more about below. I am proud to offer common sense legislation that levels the playing field for our most disenfranchised neighbors. More changes are coming as far as the make-up of several legislative and advisory bodies in DC. Please visit the Board of Elections’ (BOE) website if you have questions about completing your ballot for the November 8 election and for information regarding the races and ballot measure. Remember that in the At-Large Council race, voters are allowed to choose up to two candidates.
Hope you all had a safe and fun Halloween!
Last week, I attended my first Mayor-Council Breakfast. It was great to see my colleagues and discuss issues that concern residents. We also heard from the Destination D.C. about the proposal of a 1% assessment on hotels stays to level the playing field with other cities. The Metropolitan Police Department gave a Public Safety presentation in which they provided crime statistics, strategies, and interventions that have been implemented in targeted areas throughout the city.
Recently Introduced Legislation
Council Period 24 Class Photo
On October 18, the Council took the ceremonial class photo. There will be a new Class in January.
Junior Councilwomen Photo
Councilmembers Pinto, Lewis-George, and I were able to take our “Freshwomen Photo.” We celebrated making it through our first Council Period together. We also had the unique pleasure of campaigning and winning our elections during the pandemic. Next on the list, Committee assignments!
Committee of The Whole:
November 2: My bill B24-0989-The Educator Background Check Streamlining Amendment Act of 2022, proposes improvements to the screening process for teachers and volunteers in DC Public Schools. While the typical background check process should take around 3 weeks, it is now taking upwards of 3 months. This legislation proposes revisions to the suitability screening process in DCPS by screening the states an applicant has lived or worked. The past 3 employers or past 7 years of direct supervision of children will be examined. Click here by close of business today to sign up to testify.
November 16: My bill B24-1051- Planning Actively for Recreational upKeep So Neighborhood Resources Elevate Communities Act of 2022. This legislation would require the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to provide transparency in the agency’s capital improvement plan (CIP). It would also require future analyses on the neighborhood growth in areas surrounding a facility, as well as comprehensive engagement with community members throughout the process. DPR would have to include investments according to facility need and expected community growth, provide full-funding cost estimates for projects, and fund projects throughout the 6-year CIP.
Advocating for Reproductive Rights
On October 28, I spoke at an event for Planned Parent Advocates for DC, Maryland, and Virginia. I highlighted our dedication on Council to ensure that DC is and can remain a sanctuary city for abortive and reproductive care.
October 18: The Council passed on final reading my bill, B24-726: Enhancing Reproductive Health Protections Amendment Act of 2022. With this legislation, the District will not penalize an individual assisting those who are seeking, inducing, or attempting to induce their own abortion. It also shields those who provide, dispense, or transfer any product used for self-managed abortions from any penalties. As a consideration of the Dobbs decision, the Committee on Government Operations and Facilities released a report on the need for this legislation. It now awaits the Mayor’s signature.
Committee of the Whole
October 11: At a hearing on the “No Shots, No School” mandate, school leaders testified about the challenges of tracking students’ vaccination compliance due to different policies around documentation and proof of vaccination. The shortage of school nurses was also highlighted, as were the lower rates of compliance for families East of the River. Suggestions were offered on ways to support hesitant families to ensure their children receive all the routine immunizations required for in-person learning. The COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students will be re-considered to allow DC Health to streamline their databases and education campaigns around routine shots.
October 25: Public witnesses were invited to discuss teacher and principal turnover, as well as weigh in on B24-355: Statewide Data Warehouse Amendment Act of 2022. As introduced, B24-355 would require the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to publicly report data relevant to understanding teacher retention and attrition in the District. Education advocates, educators, and community members testified that they are concerned about the number of teachers and principals that have left the District or their schools since the 2018-19 school year. The hearing was recessed and is scheduled for this Friday, November 4, at 3 pm.
Committee on Government Operations and Facilities
October 13: A hearing was conducted on my bill, B24-865: Commission on Re-Entry Services for Women Amendment Act of 2022, which would establish a commission to identify issues relating to women’s re-entry and examine workforce development and services related to adjusting to life beyond incarceration. We heard moving testimony about the inequities women returning from incarceration endure. Residents described being released from prison with no community, mental, or physical health resources, in addition to having to provide for children and other family members. Also, we learned that many women deal with an additional layer of stigma related to being incarcerated that is difficult to overcome. Conversations also covered filling the 4 vacant positions on the current Re-Entry Commission with formerly incarcerated women prior to establishing a separate commission.
Committee on Business and Economic Development
October 25: The Committee held a hearing on my bill B24-0699: Expanding Access to Fertility Treatment Amendment Act of 2022, which would require insurance provided through private insurers, Medicaid, and the DC Healthcare Alliance to include provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment for infertility. Several District residents shared deeply personal and powerful stories about the successes and obstacles to starting a family. Expanding access to fertility treatment is an equity issue and I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this legislation.
Committee on Transportation and the Environment
October 28: The Committee held a hearing on my bill B24-433-Rightsizing Residential Permit Parking Regulation (RPP) Amendment Act of 2022. If enacted, this legislation would resize residential parking permit boundaries so that they correspond with Advisory Neighborhood Commission boundaries since the land areas of wards can vary greatly. Residents brought many suggestions to the table and stressed the need for a re-imagined parking system for both residents and out-of-state drivers.
CommUNITY Shout Outs
In this section, we recognize and celebrate those in the community who are making a positive impact with and for their neighbors. Have a shout out? E-mail Chantal, on my team, with the details and a picture, if applicable.
The Mosaic Theater is sponsoring a community Playwright Contest! This year's topic is "What does justice mean to you?" Inspired by Mosaic’s production of The Till Trilogy and the legacy of Emmett Till, this year’s contest calls for plays that reflect upon history, past and present civil rights, and your hope for the future. 9-12th grade students in a public or charter school in the Washington, DC metro area including, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, or Northern Virginia are encouraged to apply.
1st place prize- $300
2nd place prize- $200
3rd place prize- $100
SUBMISSIONS ARE DUE BY NOVEMBER 28, 2022. WINNERS WILL BE NOTIFIED BY JANUARY 8, 2023.
All winners will have their plays read and directed by professional theater artists at the High School Playwriting Contest Play Reading on Saturday, January 21 at 2 PM at the Petworth Branch of the DC Public Library! Read more.
In Case You Missed It
Paid Family Leave- Effective October 1, 2022, the Universal Paid Leave Program will expand the number of weeks of paid leave for eligible private sector employees in the District, including the following:
Constituent Service Corner and Event Updates
The Department of Public Works (DPW) will provide leaf collection service from November 7, 2022, through January 28, 2023 for residents who receive trash and recycling services. Please review your ward map as the boundary may have changed since last year.
District households serviced by DPW are asked to rake leaves into the tree box (or at the curb in front of their home where there is no tree box) on the Sunday of the week of their scheduled collection. Visit DPW’s Leaf Collection page for more information.
DC Government is Hiring!
Mayor Bowser established the Mayor’s Office of Talent and Appointments (MOTA) to conduct aggressive outreach and engagement to identify energetic community and business professionals to fill critical appointed roles in District government. This included members of the Mayor’s Cabinet, Agency Directors, and special staff positions as excepted service appointees. Please see here if you’re interested in those opportunities.
Excepted Service is a distinct type of employment within District Government. Please note, Excepted and Executive Service are different from Career Service and Management Supervisory Service positions. For all Career and Management Service positions, please visit the Department of Human Resources (DCHR) careers opportunities website.
Compost Your Pumpkins
Beginning the week of November 6, most pumpkins and gourds can be taken to one of nine food waste collection sites in the District for composting, in support of the District’s zero waste efforts. Please note that pumpkins decorated with paint, glitter or other inorganic matter cannot be composted. The food waste drop-off locations are listed below. For more details, visit DPW’s website.
Last week, I visited middle school girls at Audi Field with Mastercard’s Girls4Tech Program. The program is focused on hands-on, inquiry-based activities. Each activity connects the foundations of Mastercard's business to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) principals. Students completed activities in Cryptology, Biometrics, Algorithms, and problem solving. As a surprise, they were graced with the presence of 3 Washington Spirit Soccer Players and tickets for the weekend’s game!
Washington School for Girls
Last week, I took a visit to Washington School for Girls (WSG)-THEARC Campus, which is the only Faith-based, Independent, All-Girls School in Ward 8. The school serves students from grades 3-5 at the Morris Rd. SE location and grades 6-8 at THEARC. Our tour guide, a graduating senior, impressed us with her knowledge and love for her school, her community, and her education.
Randle Highlands Citizens Civic Association
Last week, I visited neighbors from the Randle Highlands community. We talked illegal dumping, improving 311, public transit & ATE cameras, and crime.
DC Dream Center
I was also able to meet the other Christina Henderson, Director of the DC Dream Center, which houses the Randle Highlands Citizens Civic Association.
All About Health
Starting October 3, DC Health is partnering with Children's National Hospital to offer childhood immunizations at five clinics. Call 1-800-884-BEAR (2327) to make an appointment. It's critical that all DC students are up to date on their required immunizations. For more information, visit DC Health's website.
Monkeypox is a rare, but potentially serious, viral illness that can be transmitted from person to person through direct contact with body fluid or monkeypox lesions. There is a vaccine available, albeit in limited amounts. DC Health’s site for registering for Monkeypox vaccinations and receiving more information can be accessed here.
Annual Flu Shot
DC residents can now get their free flu shots, booster shots, KN95 masks, take-home COVID tests, as well as a new self-administered PCR test all in one place. DC has 8 Covid Centers around the city-one in each Ward. Head to your most convenient location to access what you need.
Crisis Intervention Support
The COVID-19 Pandemic has brought about an increase in mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and stress. While everyone faces challenges, there is help when those challenges become too much to face alone.
The Suicide Hotline as it was previously referred to, has a new name, a broader focus, and is now the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline You can now receive mental health crisis support or support if you just need someone to talk 9-8-8 is the new, easy to remember number that you can call or text 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Thank you for reading! Please stay in touch.
**Starting September 6, all Council emails switched to the .gov domain.**
Chief of Staff
Deputy Chief of Staff
Constituent Services Director
Councilmember At-Large Christina Henderson
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 408
Washington, D.C. 20004