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October 18 Legislative Update


October 18 Legislative Update

Here’s an update on DC Council happenings and the new Office of Nightlife and Culture.

DC Council

Initiative 77 – The DC Council voted to overturn Initiative 77. The repeal bill passed by the same 8 to 5 margin as the previous vote (DC bills need to be voted on and pass twice before they are sent to the Mayor). Mayor Bowser has said she’ll sign the legislation.

The repeal bill did include several provisions to address concerns about harassment and wage theft raised by the initiatives supporters during the ballot initiative campaign.

Those include:

  • requiring employers who employ tipped workers to provide their employees with their tip out sheet;
  • requires tipped wage employers use a third-party to do payroll and mandates the reporting of certain wage data, including the employer’s tip out policy, to DOES on a quarterly basis;
  • requiring mandatory online training about sexual harassment for employees who manage tipped workers; and
  • establishing a Tipped Workers Coordinating Council of tipped workers, employers, and public agencies that promotes a high-quality response to tipped worker cases of wage theft and unfair labor practices.

But as the budget for 2019 has already been passed, funding for these initiatives will need to be found from within existing funds.

Home Sharing (AirBnB) – The Council pushed the AirBnB vote back to November 13.  According to the DC Council summary, the vote was postponed “in order to provide councilmembers more time to analyze a funding mechanism included in the legislation at the request of the District’s Chief Financial Officer.”  According to the Washington Post, there are concerns that implementation of an oversight office could cost the District $104 million over 4 years.

The Council did agree that the effective date of any legislation would be October 1, 2019, to allow the city to create (and fund) a home sharing enforcement and licensing agency.  The agency is estimated to have 20 employees.

For more info on actions the council took on October 15, and to learn what’s on the agenda for November 13, check out DC Council’s recent update.

“Night Mayor”

What the heck is a “night mayor?” It’s the director of DC’s newly-created Office of Nightlife and Culture. According to the Mayor’s office, it “will serve as a central point of contact between DC agencies, the nightlife industry, and residents, promoting a safe and vibrant nightlife scene beneficial to businesses and residents across all eight wards.”

The legislation, which was introduced by CM Brandon Todd and will be signed into law today, also establishes a 15-member Commission on Nightlife comprised of government, private-sector, and community representatives to advise the Office, the Mayor, and the Council on policy improvements and laws that affect nightlife establishments including bars, restaurants, clubs, theaters, sports and entertainment venues, and nearby residents.

From CM Todd’s newsletter: “This office will help ensure that as the District’s nightlife and culture economy expands and enters new areas of the District, that this growth takes place in a responsible and coordinated fashion. The Office will serve as a central liaison and after-hours point of contact to work with DC Government agencies, Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, and other neighborhood stakeholders to help address concerns such as noise, traffic, litter, and public safety. This office will also foster nightlife and culture by helping new and existing establishments cut through red tape. Additionally, the legislation establishes a Commission on Nightlife and Culture, comprised of government, private-sector and community representatives to advise the Office, the Mayor, the Council, and the public on how to improve policies and laws that affect nightlife establishments.

“The District’s Nightlife and culture economy is booming. DC’s hospitality industry accounted for 80,000 jobs as of May 2017, having grown 6 percent from the prior year. This office will help coordinate the continued growth of nightlife and culture, which is so much more than bars and clubs, but also restaurants, art, fashion, music, theater, sports, and recreation. Importantly, the office will not have taxation or regulatory authority — it will only serve as a resource for businesses and the community, and will be open for business when other agencies are not.”

CHAMPS will track this as the office comes online, and as the Commission is created. Check out the job announcement for ‘night mayor’ here.