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.
New Statehood Bill Introduced in the House
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 120 cosponsors. For more details about the bill and its cosponsors go to "Statehood Bills" under the "How Can I Help?" menu on the right os 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! I
n 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.
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://220.127.116.11:8080/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.