Can you believe it's almost October? Sweater weather is here! Council is back in session, kids are back in the classroom, and rush hour has returned full force.
As we change seasons, it's important to keep yourself and your family safe from the number of illnesses that show up this time of year. This month, I got my "Flooster" (flu shot and COVID booster) at my local COVID center. Research shows that vaccines are effective in reducing the severity of COVID, as well as other respiratory illnesses.
We have only a few weeks before Council Period 24 ends and we have been busy drafting and introducing legislation on educator background checks, traffic safety, and support for perinatal mental health, on which you will find more information below. This month, we’ve already marked up legislation I introduced to enhance reproductive health protections.
One of my priorities has been ensuring that we reduce traffic fatalities and injuries in the District. Dangerous driving habits contributed to calendar year 2021 experiencing the highest number of traffic deaths since 2007. This is not a statistic that any resident should be proud of and I welcome solution-oriented discussion about how to make this city safer, especially for residents east of the Anacostia. I talk more about why this is important in this recent DCist article.
The challenges we are facing in our city provide us the opportunity to put our heads and hearts together to make sure we are taking care of ourselves and each other. We are a city of compassion and will. There’s lots on the agenda these next few months – let’s finish strong!
Recently Introduced Legislation
Committee on Government Operations and Facilities:
October 13: B24-865-Commission on Re-Entry Services for Women Amendment Act of 2022 establishes The Commission on Re-Entry Services for Women in DC. Women re-entering our community have unique needs and deserve a commission that will support the District's efforts to ensure successful re-integration. The commission will identify issues relating to women’s re-entry, examine workforce development and educational opportunities, and provide services for them to be successfully re-connected to their communities. Click here to sign up to testify by October 11.
Committee on Transportation and the Environment:
October 28: B24-433-Rightsizing Residential Permit Parking Regulation (RPP) Amendment Act of 2022 would resize residential parking permit boundaries so that they correspond with Advisory Neighborhood Commission boundaries since the land areas of wards can vary greatly. E-mail Aukima Benjamin to sign up to testify by Thursday, October 27.
Committee of The Whole:
November 2: 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. The National Sex Offender Registry must also be reviewed for each applicant. Click here to sign up to testify before October 31.
September 20: DC Council voted to approve the Office of Migrant Services via The Migrant Services and Supports Emergency Act of 2022. The legislation authorizes the Mayor to establish and administer programs to provide services and supports to recent immigrants to the United States who are temporarily in the District. The Council also approved my emergency and temporary legislation to allow the Perinatal Mental Health Taskforce to get started on its work in October and provided additional time for the Taskforce to develop their report and recommendations. We also voted to approve the bill I introduced with Councilmember Elissa Silverman, the District Government Paid Leave Enhancement Amendment Act of 2022.
September 22: The Committee on Government Operations held a Markup on my bill, B24-0726: Enhancing Reproductive Health Protections Amendment Act of 2022. The District will not penalize an individual assisting those who are seeking, inducing, or attempting to induce their own abortion. The full Council will vote on the legislation in October.
September 27: The Committee of the Whole held a hearing on my bill, B24-0232: Students and Minor Access to Records and Transcripts (SMART) Act of 2021. The SMART Act would allow minors that are sixteen years of age or older to request and receive their education records. This includes grades, class schedules, assessments, scores, transcripts, and academic standings. If available, a local education agency must provide records with a gender mark that matches the minor’s gender identity. LEAs ("Local Education Agencies") would have 15 days to comply and honor the request, and should include the gender marker matching the students' gender identity. DCPS spoke about their current practices on releasing records. Others spoke about the need for students, as young as 14, to be able to access their educational records without parental consent. I anticipate this legislation moving forward in the Committee of the Whole before the end of the year.
September 27: The Final Report RC24-0221 - Independent Verification and Validation of DC Water’s Lead Free DC Lead Service Line Removal Plan. The Committee on Transportation and the Environment held a roundtable on DC Water’s lead service line replacement plan. Witnesses described the dangerous health impacts of lead in water, especially to children, and the urgent need to replace lead service lines to people’s homes and to childcare centers. Approximately 42,000 lead service lines need to be replaced in the District. Engineering consultants contracted by the DC Council to study DC Water’s replacement plan recommended mandating replacement and merging the funding of the existing replacement programs. They also recommended tracking repairs by census block groups as a more precise way to prioritize areas with high numbers of children.
September 28: The Committee of the Whole held a hearing on my bill, B24-445: College Student Athlete Compensation Amendment Act of 2021, which I wrote last year following the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s ("NCAA") decision to lift its blanket prohibition on student athletes getting paid publicity and endorsement deals. This is more commonly referred to as Name, Image, Likeness ("NIL") deals. My bill would allow student athletes in the District to be compensated for NIL activity, sets boundaries on the types of products or activities that athletes may endorse, enables universities to set reasonable rules around NIL activity and protect intellectual property, updates the athletes’ agent statute requirements, and maintains prohibitions on pay-for play or performance as well as payments to induce attendance at a particular school. The national landscape around NIL is changing, and witnesses provided helpful context to the need for NIL legislation. I look forward to working with the Chairman to advance this legislation during this Council Period.
September 28: The Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety held an oversight hearing regarding the operations of OUC ("Office of Unified Communications"). Witnesses spoke about the lack of communication from the agency regarding errors in 9-1-1 dispatching and response time. I highlighted testimony provided by DC Health at a separate hearing earlier in the day, which mentioned 547 vacancies for EMTs and paramedics in the District. To adequately supply the emergency response workforce, it is vital that we make sure we are attracting those with the desire to do this challenging work. Director Holmes was unable to join the hearing and Councilmember Allen will resume the roundtable at a later date.
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.
"Little League is honored to recognize Banneker City Little League for their commitment to the safety and well-being of their players with the presentation of the 2022 ASAP Awards!" Read more.
Congratulations to the players, coaches, staff, and families for their dedication to safety and their love of the game!
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
Food & Friends: For the month of September, Team Henderson gloved up to give back by volunteering at Food & Friends. Food & Friends prepares and delivers nutritionally tailored, delicious meals directly to our neighbors' homes. The organization provides meals, groceries, and nutrition counseling to people living with life-challenging illnesses. All meals and services are free-of-charge to the client, their dependents, and caregivers. Learn more here.
The Department of Regulatory and Consumer Affairs (DCRA): DCRA will split into two new agencies, The DC Department of Buildings and The DC Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection, which will become effective at midnight on October 1, 2022. A detailed explanation of the agencies and services provided can be found on DCRA's website.
Art All Night: Team Henderson made their way through the District's Art All Night locations. My daughter, Jordan, painted this "abstract" piece and was extremely focused on it coming out just right!
Skimming through the Banned Books section of Mahogany Books in Anacostia during Art All Night. How many have you read?
Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom School: On September 26, I took a visit to Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom School. I was in awe watching students be instructed in French during Math class. Stokes has several Dual Immersion programs for students in both French and Spanish.
I also stopped by the Community Garden at Stokes and spoke with school leaders about the benefits of having students engaged in agriculture and gardening activities.
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. We’ve had several confirmed cases in the District of Columbia. 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.
DC has 8 Covid Centers around the city-one in each Ward. Head to your most convenient location to access vaccinations, boosters, and take-home rapid antigen tests. Covid Centers are a new walk-up testing opportunity, which allows residents to administer and register a PCR test themselves.
Wellness Focus: Breathing
While we often take breathing for granted, there are multiple benefits of diaphragm (deep) breathing, such as increased oxygen and blood flow, reduced heart rate, and increased relaxation.
Try This: Triangle Breathing
Breathe in for 3 seconds, hold for 3 seconds, then breathe out for 3 seconds. Use this technique throughout the day. It works great when you are frustrated and takes only a few seconds.
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.**
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