**FILE** The D.C. Council chamber at the John A. Wilson Building in D.C. (Courtesy of dccouncil.us)
**FILE** The D.C. Council chamber at the John A. Wilson Building in D.C. (Courtesy of dccouncil.us)

Council Period 24 ended on Dec. 20 with the District’s legislative body passing bills that have the potential to change the lives of residents for the foreseeable future.

“I want to say before we start the last legislative meeting of Period 24 to thank all of you for your work,” D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) said on the dais. “I am saying this because there are some of you who will not be with us when we start Council Period 25 in a few weeks.”

When Period 25 starts on Jan. 2, Council members Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) and Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) will not be on the Council. Silverman lost her bid for reelection and Cheh opted not to seek another term. New Council members will be Democrats Zachary Parker and Matt Frumin, who will represent Wards 5 and 3 respectively. Kenyan McDuffie, who represents Ward 5, will remain on the council in 2023 but will be an independent, at-large member.

Mendelson sat on the dais along with Silverman, McDuffie, Christina Henderson (I-At Large), Janeese Lewis George (D-Ward 4), Anita Bonds (D-At Large), Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), Robert White (D-At Large), Brianne K. Nadeau (D-Ward 1) and Brooke Pinto (D-Ward 2). Cheh and her colleagues Trayon White (D-Ward 8) and Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7) attended the meeting virtually.

Mendelson rearranged the legislative meeting schedule and considered the District of Columbia Housing Authority Stabilization and Reform Emergency Declaration Resolution of 2022 as the first piece of legislation. The legislation re-organizes the D.C. Housing Authority board after a U.S. Housing and Urban Development report in October cited the inefficiencies and mishaps of the agency. 

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, along with Mendelson and Bonds, who chairs the Committee on Housing and Executive Administration, came up with a plan to install an interim board with fewer members with the charge to administratively repair the workings and the image of the agency. 

The council members voted 9 in favor of and 4 against the legislation reorganizing the board, with Silverman saying the measure doesn’t go far enough to deal with the systemic problems of the board and the lack of affordable housing in the District.

The Council also approved Allen’s Metro for DC bill that will allow free bus rides for Washingtonians starting in July 2023 and a $100 monthly balance on a registered SmartTrip card for District residents beginning in 2024. With this vote, the District becomes the only known jurisdiction offering free bus rides for residents.

“Today’s vote on this transformational bill makes the District a national leader in the future of public transit,” Allen said. “The bill balances making transit a public good with ensuring world-class service continues to return to our Metro system. It has the support and excitement of District residents, District businesses and the union representing transit workers.”

The council approved legislation revising and updating the city’s criminal justice code, supporting a temporary tax of patrons at hotels, encouraging solar power usage by residents, reforming the way public schools are funded, expanding the medical marijuana system, and implementing safety measures for pedestrians and cyclists near schools.

George, a freshman lawmaker, said her first two years on the council opened her eyes to how the city runs and the legislative process works.

“We started and finished this council term making a difference for working families in D.C.,” she said. “Last year, we passed the Homes and Hearts budget amendment, which funded huge raises for child care workers in D.C. who are overwhelmingly underpaid Black and brown women — and we put a full-time certified librarian in every DCPS school. And we are ending this year by passing the Safe Routes to School Act to make major traffic safety improvements at all public schools in the District — starting first with schools in communities that have been left behind. I am eager to keep confronting the challenges that our city faces in the next term, but I am saddened that we will lose our woman-majority Council.”

James Wright Jr.

James Wright Jr. is the D.C. political reporter for the Washington Informer Newspaper. He has worked for the Washington AFRO-American Newspaper as a reporter, city editor and freelance writer and The Washington...

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