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Timeline - 217 Years of the District of Columbia's Efforts to Restore Self-Government E-mail

The residents of what is now the District of Columbia lost their full democratic rights to self-government and a government of, by and for the people over 200 years ago.  Ever since then, they have been demanding that Congress restore the full rights of American citizenship.

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What to Do for D.C. Statehood this month! E-mail

Forum on Defederalizing D.C.'s Criminal Justice System

On Thursday, November 30, 2017, a forum on how to transfer back to the people of D.C. the District's criminal justice system, which is now completely under federal control, was held at the University of the District of Columbia David Clarke Law School.

Unlike all states and the jurisdictions within them, the U.S. Attorney for D.C., who is appointed by the President with the consent of the U.S. Senate, prosecutes District crimes. As with all other all U.S. Attorneys, the Attorney General of the United States oversees the U.S. Attorney for D.C, not the Mayor of D.C.  or the D.C. Council.Thus, U.S. Attorney responds to federal concerns and policies regarding the exercise of his or her prosecutorial powers.

Similarly, all the judges in D.C's court system (D.C. Superior Court and D.C. Court of Appeals) are also appointed by the President with the consent of the U.S. Senate. When the Senate slows down its approval of federal judges because of some Federal policy concerns, it usually affects whether D.C. vacancies are filled.This has major ramifications on whether District residents can get a speedy trial. D.C. prisoners also go to Federal prisons, often a long way from their homes, which weakens ties with their families and makes re-entry into society much more difficult.

Although the Metropolitan Police Force reports to the Mayor and is responsive to the people of D.C., the Federal government controls D.C.'s Parole Board, Probation Agency and Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. This bifurcation of responsibilities leads to a lot of problems. In her farewell press conference, former Police Chief Cathy Lanier noted her frustration with so much of our criminal justice system being under the federal government and outside local control. She said that “(t)he criminal justice system in this city is broken. It is beyond broken.” She was talking about this bifurcation of control over essential criminal justice functions and the lack of coordination to which that leads

These issues were discussed by:

Johnny Barnes: Former Executive Director of the ACLU of the Nation’s Capital, livingwiththelaw.com

Avis Buchanan: Director, Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, www.pdsdc.org

Louis Sawyer: Chair, Reentry Task Force

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton has introduced a number of bills in the House that would defederalize many of these criminal justice entities. When the residential and commercial areas of the current District become a state, we would take over these functions. It is important that we begin planning now and even begin transferring some or all of these functions to our local government. Please come and learn more about the issues and help us plan how to transition to statehood with full local control of our criminal justice system.

The forum focused on the parole board. Currently the U.S. Parole Commission oversees parole issue for D.C. inmates who have been convicted of crimes under D.C. law.  The federal law authorizing them to do this expires in November 2018 so this would be an opportune time to seek to get Congress to transfer this responsibility back to the District Government.

To hear a detailed analysis of the issue and its mpact D.C. prisioners, go to:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1XHn1zUcVY. The forum lasted 1 hour and 40  minutes.

Support the effort to convene a true constitutional convention, with elected delegates, as soon as possible. See the article on the January 26, 2017 resolution of the Ward 3 Democratic Committee.

Statehood Bills Gain Cosponsors in Congress

On March 2, 2017, D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton introduced H.R. 1291, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act. The bill had a record breaking 116 cosponsors. It now has 141 cosponsors. On May 25, 2017, Sen. Thomas Carper (D-DE) introduced S. 1278, a companion statehood bill, with 18 cosponsors, in the Senate. It now has 20 cosponsors in the Senate.

For more details about the House and Senate bills and their cosponsors, go to "Statehood Bills" under the "How Can I Help?" menu on the right of this home page.

Congress continues to meddle in D.C. affairs, focusing on the recently enacted Death with Dignity Act, our gun laws and using local tax money to subsidize poor women's abortions and aid to immigrants facing deportation. For more information, see articles below.

D.C. Voters Overwhelmingly Approve the "Advisory Referendum" on Statehood

On November 8, 2016, District voters overwhelmingly voted for statehood with 87% (or 244,134) of those voting on the referendum approving it and 13% (40,779) opposing it. 26,154 voters (8.4%) either did not vote on the referendum or otherwise spoiled their ballot. D.C. voter turnout was very high in this election with over sixty-five percent of registered D.C. voters voting!

By approving the referendum the voters advised the D.C. Council to petition Congress to approve an admission act. This is the first time since 1982, when they ratified the 1982 constitution, that District voters have had a chance to vote for statehood.

The text of the referendum was:

"To ask the voters on November 8, 2016, through an advisory referendum, if the Council should petition Congress to enact a statehood admission act to admit the State of New Columbia to the Union. Advising the Council to approve this proposal would establish that the citizens of the District of Columbia ("District") (1) agree that the District should be admitted to the union as the State of New Columbia; (2) approve a Constitution of the State of New Columbia to be adopted by the Council; (3) approve the State of New Columbia's boundaries, as adopted by the New Columbia Statehood Commission on June 28, 2016; and (4) agree that the State of New Columbia shall guarantee an elected representative form of government."

For a discussion of the referendum, see What's the Advisory Referendum on Our Ballot? by David Jonas Bardin below.

Educate Congress for D.C. Statehood

It only takes Congress passing a single law to admit the residential and commercial parts of the current District of Columbia as the 51st state. To do this, it is up to us to educate the members of Congress on why it is a an American issue that all Americans should have the right to self-government and the rights that flow from that. That will only happen if we educate the members of Congress and their constituents and ask them to lobby their Senators and Representative on our behalf. Americans should not be denied the most fundamental right - LIBERTY - merely because of their residence in the capital of world's oldest democracy!

On March 2, 2017, D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton introduced H.R. 1291, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act, in the House of Representatives with a record number of cosponsors - 116! There are now 141 cosponsors, the largest number ever to cosponsor a D.C. statehood bill.

On May 5, 2017, Senator Thomas Carper (D-DE) introduced S. 1278 with 18 original cosponsors.  There are now 20 cosponsors.

In the previous Congress (2015-2016), there were 93 original cosponsors on the House bill, H.R. 317, and 133 by the end of the session. There were 17 original cosponsors on the Senate bill, S. 1688, and 20 by the end of the session. In the 113th Congress (2013-2014), there were only 15 original cosponsors on H.R. 292, the House version of the New Columbia Admission Act, when it was introduced, and three on S. 132, the Senate companion bill. By the close of that Congress, there were 112 cosponsors on the House bill and 20 on the Senate bill.

We need your help to educate members of Congress and get more cosponsors on the bills this session. If you would like to help, please contact Ann Loikow ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ), Elinor Hart ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) or Josh Burch ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ). Josh particularly wants help in lgetting more Senators to cosponsor the Senate bill. The next major lobby day will be this fall.

Mayor's Statehood Initiative

The "Statehood Constitutional Convention" organized by the Mayor through the New Columbia Statehood Commission finished its 3 day - 10-12 hour total! - "convention" Saturday, June 18, 2016. Laura Fuchs, a D.C. civics teacher testified at the opening session on June 13 and pointedly noted that this was really a "townhall meeting," not a "convention", and that "citizens" are not "delegates" when no authority and no vote over the content of the constitution has been delegated to them. Only the members of the New Columbia Statehood Commission (the Mayor, Chairman of the Council, and 3 members of our statehood Congressional delegation) have a vote. The Commission amended and approved the constitution on June 28, 2016.

For more on the effort and the "convention," see "The Mayor's initiative and D.C.'s statehood constitutions,"  "Reactions to othe 'Constitutional Convention," and "Public Comments on Draft Statehood Constitution" below.

Now it is up to the people of D.C. to push the Council to call for a real constitutional convention with elected delegates as soon as possible. (See the Ward 3 Democratic Committee's resolution below.) This takes time, including time to plan the convention and do adequate preparatory work on the issues and how other states are organized and what are the best practices. The people of D.C. need to urge the D.C. Council to put funding for a constitutinal convention in the 2017 and 2018 budgets, as well as funding for the necessary feasibility studies and analyses on what would happen when we become a state. We also need to begin the process of coordinating with the Federal government on boundaries and how to return local agencies and functions, such as our courts and criminal justice system, including our criminal prosecutors, to the new state. In addition, we need to look at how to revise our land use planning and zoning functions, which are now handled by joint Federal and D.C. entities, and transfer them to the new state. There is a lot of work that we need to get started on now! Please contact your Council Members and get them started!

D.C. Council's action

At the request of the Mayor, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson introduced Bill No. 21-826, the "Constitution of the State of New Columbia Approval Amendment Act of 2016." The Council held two public hearings on the bill. The first was on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 and the second was on Thursday, October 6, 2016. Video of the September 27, 2016 hearing can be found at http://208.58.1.36:8080/DCC/September2016/09_27_16_COW.mp4.

Chairman Mendelson announced at the end of the October 6, 2016 that he had introduced a resolution, PR21-0913, the "Constitution and Boundaries for the State of New Columbia Approval Resolution of 2016," on Wednesday, October 5, 2016. The resolution contained the text of the constitution as approved by the Statehood Commission on June 28, 2016. However, instead of the boundary between the new state and the federal distirct approved by the Statehood Commission on June 28, 2016, and then amended in two places on September 14, 2016, the metes and bounds of the boundary were those proposed by John Loikow, a professional geographer and cartographer. He had analyzed the boundary approved by the Statehood Commission and prepared a commentary of the proposed metes and bounds, the issues some parts raised, and offered alternative wording.

To see the boundary he proposed, go to Boundary Between the Seat of Federal Government and the New State below.

On October 18, 2016, the Council marked up this resolution, instead of Bill 21-826. As a result, only one reading (vote) on the resolution, instead of two on the bill, was required. The original resolution can be found at: http://lims.dccouncil.us/Download/36406/PR21-0902-Introduction.pdf. The Council also made a number of amendments to the Constitution. The constituion as amended by the Council can be found at http://statehood.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/statehood/publication/attachments/Pre-enrolled-Constitution.pdf and also as the "Pre-enrolled Version of the Constitution Approved October 18, 2016" below.

See the articles below on the Council's action on July 12, 2016 to approve the referendum language, the hearings on September 27 and October 6, 2016, and the Council's action on October 18, 2016 to approve Resolution PR21-0913, which includes new metes and bounds for the boundary between the new state and the federal district and an amended constitution. See D.C. Council Passes Resolution on State Boundary and Constitution below for press coverage of the Council's action on the resolution.

See above for what the Council should be working on now to prepare for statehood.

Listen to "Shadow Politics" with D.C. Sen. Michael Brown Sunday 7 p.m.

D.C. Senator Michael D. Brown with special Co-Host Kathleen Gomez has a weekly internet radio talk show on BBSRadio.com (station #2) on Sundays from 7 to 8 p.m. EDT. The call-in numbers are: 888-429-5471 (toll free US/Canada); 530-413-9537 (line 1); 530-763-1594 (line 2); 530-763-1594(line 3); 530-763-0341 (line 4); SKYPE: BBSRadio2.


For more information, see articles below.

District residents and supporters of D.C. statehood need to continue the momentum.  Besides participating in this month's events as listed above, below are ways you can help get Congress to admit the State of New Columbia as the 51st state:

1. If you have family and friends around the country who are citizens of a state please ask them to call their Senators and  Representative to support D.C. statehood and  co-sponsor the statehood bill. It you would like to help in the effort to get Congressional co-sponsors, email us at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

2. Please get any organization to which you belong -- citizen and civic associations, political committees, labor unions, clubs, veterans groups and any other activist group -- to endorse D.C. statehood and to send a letter to that effect to the President and Congress. Many of these groups are part of national organizations. We need to get the local chapters endorsing statehood and then get them to put statehood on the agenda of their national parent organization.

3. If you are a D.C. resident, please join the effort to get a true constitutional convention and demand that the Council properly fund our elected statehood delegation.

Please help us in any or all of these ways.  With your help, the almost 700,000 residents of the District of Columbia can regain the right to self-government that Congress took away from us over two centuries ago! D.C. Statehood now!

D.C. Statehood - Yes We Can!

 
Fight for D.C. Statehood! E-mail

No where else, but in our nation's capital, do Americans lose their democratic rights merely because of their choice of residence. No where else do American citizens have all the responsibilities of citizenship, but few of the rights.

District citizens pay full federal taxes and serve in the military and die for our country but have no say in whether we go to war, what those taxes are, who serves on our federal courts or in the President's cabinet, or whether the United States should enter into various treaties and international obligations. We can't even spend our own local tax money freely. Congress is implicitly our "state legislature" and does whatever it wants here, even things it would not dare to impose on their constituents back in their home states.

To find out how you can help, please read more.

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D.C. Statehood Rap E-mail

D.C. Statehood Rap

Voting Rights

 

In 2008, D.C. rapper Rasi Caprice wrote the song "Free D.C."  calling for statehood,

Listen to the full song by [https://myspace.com/caprice202; clickon "Free D.C."].

 
D.C. Delegate Norton Seeks to remove House Budget riders E-mail

On September 14, 2017, the House approved the fiscal year 2018 D.C. Appropriations bill which contains five anti-home rule riders where Congress is legislating only because D.C. is not a state and Congress is our unelected state legislature. D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton released a press release describing her efforts to remove these riders. The riders seek to overturn D.C. Council legislation and prevent implementation of legislation regarding 5 home rule issues. The bill would repeal the District's Death with Dignity Act and the Budget Autonomy Act and block D.C. from spending local tax monies on abortion services for low-income women, taxing and regulating marijuana sales, and implementing the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act. Congress must pass the appropriations act by December 8, 2017.

Norton noted that “House Republicans express endless love of local control of local affairs, their central party principle, except when it comes to the District of Columbia. They preach the constitutional principle of federalism, yet use the big foot of the federal government to undemocratically overturn and block local D.C. policies they disagree with, solely on a political basis."

 

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