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Ward 3 Democratic Committee Speaks Out on Statehood E-mail

Resolution of the Ward 3 Democratic Committee

On Statehood Strategy for 2017-2018

January 26, 2017

Whereas, on November 8, 2016, for the first time since 1982, District voters voted overwhelmingly for statehood with 244,134 voters, or 85.7% of those voting on the referendum, voting yes for statehood; and

Whereas the Mayor’s statehood initiative, that she began on Emancipation Day 2016, led to a concerted effort to educate the people of the District about why we need statehood and what it will take to get it; and

Whereas, because of the short time frame between Emancipation Day and the election, there was inadequate time for the people of the District to fully debate what kind of state government we wanted and for the necessary coordination with the Federal Government on the proposed boundary with the reduced Federal District of Columbia and for planning on how to take back the state functions now performed by the Federal Government; and

Whereas, recognizing that some things have changed in the 34 years since our last constitutional convention, the people of the District have strongly spoken out that we want to have a constitutional convention to develop our new state constitution and that such a convention should be held as soon as possible, allowing for adequate funding and the election of delegates; and

Whereas, the District government needs funding to do the kind of detailed thinking, research and coordination needed to develop in-depth plans for the new state; and

Whereas a national education and lobbying campaign will increase broad-based visibility of D.C.’s non-state status:

Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Ward 3 Democratic Committee urges the Council of the District of Columbia to act to:

1. Promptly develop and implement plans for, and fully fund, a constitutional convention, modeled on the 1982 convention, with elected delegates to be elected in the next scheduled primary, general or special election, and that such convention shall begin within ninety (90) days of the date on which the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics certifies the election of the delegates; and

2. Fund a statehood feasibility study and transition plan that lays out the costs and logistical issues that would come into play when we achieve statehood, including taking back our courts and criminal justice system from the Federal Government. Part of this study should include whether we should take back some or all of our courts and criminal justice system before statehood is achieved; and

3. Fund a national education and state legislative lobbying campaign to increase public knowledge of the disenfranchisement of D.C. residents due to our non-state status.

Be it further resolved that the Ward 3 Democratic Committee authorizes the Chair, with the assistance of the Ward 3 Democratic Committee’s Statehood Task Force, to transmit, publicize and testify before the Council on this resolution and work with other individuals and groups to otherwise implement this resolution.

Approved at the January 26, 2017 meeting of the Ward 3 Democratic Committee.

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Explanation

On November 8, District voters overwhelming voted for statehood. The people of the District also strongly indicated during the Statehood Commission’s town meetings and the Council’s hearings that we wanted to actively participate in shaping our state government and hold a real constitutional convention with elected delegates.

Given the strong popular support for statehood shown by the referendum, it is important that we keep the momentum going. The intense work over the past six months to prepare for the referendum has shown that there is a lot more work needed to make statehood a reality. Doing the necessary feasibility studies and preparation for a constitutional convention, including scheduling an election for delegates, which will probably not take place until 2018, takes time.

For this to happen, the Mayor and the Council need to put funds in the budget for feasibility, transition and financial analyses and studies, as well as for coordination with the Federal government on boundary issues and discussions of what functions now performed by the Federal government should be transferred to the new state and how.

A constitutional convention also requires a lot of advance work and funding, including holding the election for delegates, making arrangements for when and where to hold the convention and staffing it, and doing necessary preparatory work on the issues and analyses on how other states are organized and handle various state functions.

The Mayor’s staff is already hard at work on the FY 2018 budget (for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2017). The Council staff is gearing up for the oversight and budget hearings on it. In addition, the recently approved Federal Continuing Resolution on the FY 2017 budget expires April 28, 2017. Both the Mayor’s staff and Council staff have indicated that any resolution addressing these budgets should get to them as soon as possible.

The resolution also seeks funding for a national education and lobbying campaign to educate the American public about how disenfranchised the residents of D.C. are because they are not citizens of a state. This provision also recognizes that the most effective lobbyists for D.C. statehood are each Congressperson’s constituents. By educating the American people, we lay the essential groundwork for Congress to understand that D.C. statehood is an American issue that removes a two century old blot on American democracy and implements our most fundamental beliefs that all people, including the almost 687,000 of us residing in our national capital, are equal and should have the right to self-government.

If this resolution is approved, we are urging the Council to tell the voters that it has heard their desire for statehood and will fund the work needed to make statehood a reality.

 

 
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