After its summer recess, the D.C. Council has come back to work on a myriad of issues and Council members Vincent Gray and Trayon White will play key roles.
The council resumed legislating on Sept. 17, and Gray, a Democrat representing Ward 7, said he will push for an East End health care system.
“I am going to work hard on health care,” said Gray, who serves as the chair of the council’s health committee. “I want to see the contract for the new East End hospital and health care system come through. We have an urgent care center coming in Ward 7. There is going to be a medical facility at Skyland Town Center.
“These developments send a powerful message that we are working toward equitable health care services in the city,” he said.
Gray introduced the Prohibition of Electronic Smoking Sales Without a Prescription Act of 2019. He wants to address the negative health consequences of vaping and discourage youth from the practice.
“While we continue to learn more about the long-term harmful effects vaping products and e-cigarettes have on a person’s lungs, what we know now with certainty, is that these products contain high levels of nicotine,” Gray said. “Nicotine is a dangerous and highly addictive chemical. What is most concerning to me is that a new generation of young people can get hooked on nicotine through vaping and electronic smoking”.
Gray plans to hold a hearing on the bill and other vaping products legislation before the council.
White (D-Ward 8) said his focus will be on public safety and securing senior housing. He will continue advocating for the Bowser administration to do more to protect Ward 8 residents, such as funding more violence interrupters and encouraging city police to better cooperate with his constituents.
White said housing has become a major concern in his ward and he doesn’t want the elderly to be displaced.
“Seniors are vulnerable in this housing market and I will work to try to keep them in their homes,” he said.
White, who represented his ward on the D.C. State Board of Education from 2011-2014, said making sure that his constituents have access to more vocational education programs will be paramount.
Fellow council members Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5) and Brandon Todd (D-Ward 4) have introduced bills that have generated public interest.
McDuffie introduced the Protecting Local Area Commercial Enterprises Amendment Act of 2019, which supports legacy and small local businesses by providing technical and financial assistance, gives landlords incentives to enter into or renew leases with legacy businesses and creates protections for commercial tenants as they negotiate their leases.
“This legislation is the culmination of stakeholder engagement forums, small business visits and hundreds of hours talking and listening with small businesses,” McDuffie said.
He said legacy businesses such as Sankofa Video Books & Café and the Florida Avenue Grill could be beneficiaries of his legislation.
Todd has introduced the Domestic Workers Protection Act of 2019, which would extend the District’s labor and employment protections to domestic employees such as home care workers, nannies and house cleaners.
“This bill would ensure that all domestic workers are covered by basic workers’ rights laws,” he said.