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PRESS RELEASE: Council Passes McDuffie Bills to Help Working People, Limit Corporate Campaign Contributions and Ensure Fairness to Returning Citizens

Washington, DC – Today, the D.C. Council passed on first reading four bills reflecting Councilmember McDuffie’s priorities for working people, families and returning citizens.

Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2016 [Bill 21-415]

This legislation would provide eight weeks of paid family leave for parents to bond with newborn or adopted children, six weeks to care for an ailing parent or family member, and up to two weeks leave for a personal serious health condition.

Upon passage at first reading, Councilmember McDuffie remarked: “This bill, while not perfect, is a step forward for workers in the District. Ward 5 suffers from some of the highest rates of infant mortality in the District and this legislation will help that. Among many factors, infant mortality rates are higher because new parents are often forced to choose between working and spending time with a new born. Furthermore, as the father of two young girls, I remember what it is like to trying to arrange for care for them between two working parents. While this bill is not perfect, I am compelled to support it based on how profoundly helpful this will be for the District’s working families.”

Campaign Finance Reform and Transparency Emergency Amendment Act of 2016 [emergency bill]

This bill applies current contribution limits for political action committees (“PACs”) to non-election years, and creates new reporting requirements for PACs and independent expenditure committees (“IECs”) in non-election years. Currently, PACs do not have contribution limits in non-election years and this bill will enact the same limits in 2017 as exist for election years. Under this legislation PACs and IECs will also have to report more frequently.

Upon passage of this emergency legislation, Councilmember McDuffie said: “Transparency and reasonable contribution limits are the cornerstones of a reasonable campaign finance system, and this is common-sense legislation addresses both of those. This legislation will ensure that political entities cannot raise unlimited money in 2017, simply because it does not happen to be an election year. And also increase how often those entities have to report their contributions, increasing transparency for the public”

Fair Credit in Employment Amendment Act of 2016 [Bill 21-244]

This bill prohibits employers from considering an applicant or current employee’s credit history. Fines for violations of the Act are 1,000 for the first violation, $2,500 for the second violation, and $5,000 for any subsequent violation. Nearly half of employers check an employee’s credit history when hiring for some or all positions, and its use often determines whether an applicant is hired. Poor credit history more frequently affects low-income individuals, women, and people of color, which in turn informs the employability of applicants from those backgrounds.

Upon passage of this emergency legislation, Councilmember McDuffie said: “The use of credit history in employment not only does not achieve its intended goal, but in practice it frequently winds up being discriminatory. People with poor credit history are often not in that position through any fault of their own, but because of a negative life events such as job loss or medical debt, the consequences of systemic, historic wealth inequality, and economic downturns like the Great Recession. So we see a cycle where people hit hard times and then cannot find a good job, leading to further personal financial difficultly. With this bill, we hope to break that cycle.”

Fair Criminal Record Screening for Housing Act of 2016 [Bill 21-706]

This bill – often called “Ban the Box for Housing” – limits what aspects of a person’s criminal record housing providers can consider when evaluating an applicant for tenancy. Crimes committed more than seven years ago may not be considered and neither can arrests that did not result in a conviction. This legislation also prohibits housing providers from asking about any criminal history until after a conditional offer is made. There are 45 crimes listed in the bill that are allowed to be considered; these crimes include murder in the first degree, arson, burglary, sexual assault, and aggravated assault. This legislation does not apply to rental buildings with fewer than 4 units, one of which is owner-occupied.

Upon passage of this emergency legislation, Councilmember McDuffie said: “Part of keeping the District of Columbia safe is having a way for returning citizens to reintegrate to society. This bill strikes a smart balance between protecting the interests of landlords while also pushing back against the discrimination returning citizens often face. Landlords will still be able to prevent those convicted of serious crimes from tenancy, but not for low-level crimes or arrests that never led to a conviction.”

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