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D.C. Council hearing on FY 2018 Statehood Funding E-mail

Council of the District of Columbia Committee on Government Operations

Budget Oversight Hearing 11 April 2017 at 11 am, Wilson Building Room 412, on

Executive Office of the Mayor (EOM), Office of the City Administrator (OCA), Office of the Special Adviser (OSA), Mayor's Office of Legal Counsel (MOLC), Secretary of the District of Columbia (OS)

Written testimony of David Jonas Bardin

Chairman Todd and members of the Committee,

I support Mayor Bowser's FY 2018 proposals to advance Statehood, self government and voting rights of Americans, like me, who make D.C. our home.  But I also urge initial planning toward local control.

National education and awareness campaign:

I support at least $952,000 of operating funds for the Office of the Special Assistant to support the Statehood Campaign initiative by means of a national education and awareness campaign, [1] although I would welcome even more. [2]

Protecting D.C. Archives:

I also support the proposed operating and capital funds for the Secretary of the District of Columbia for the D.C. Archives.  Safeguarding "the archives of America" was a fundamental reason for the Seat of Government clause in Article I of the U.S. Constitution. [3] Our D.C. Archives include valuable documents transferred from the National Archives.  We must protect them, using 21st century best practices.

De-federalizing our local justice system:

But I am disappointed by too little planning for Statehood or at least for enhanced local control, especially for our now-federalized local justice system.  Statehood might involve a cost of $1 billion a year to pay judges and marshals in our local courts, prosecutors of local crimes, those who deal with bail, parole, and probation, and for federal incarceration of local-crime felons. [4]

  • I urge you to add $500,000 to the Mayor's proposed Office of the City Administrator operating funds for a feasibility study of de-federalizing all or large parts of our criminal justice system.
  • Without waiting for Statehood to take over all federalized responsibilities in one fell swoop, should we shift some agencies to local control as soon as practicable?  What are our options?  We should find out.

Over 244,000 of us voted YES last year - for Statehood (with fewer than 41,000 voting NO).  By our YES votes, as American citizens deprived of civil rights, we have petitioned Congress for redress of grievances pursuant to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  Our FY 2018 Budget will measure our resolve.

That concludes my testimony.


[1] Mayor’s Proposed Budget

Enhance: The Office of the Senior Advisor’s budget proposal reflects a one-time funding increase of $952,000 in the Agency Management program to support the Statehood Campaign initiative, which aims to increase awareness and education of District of Columbia local democracy and statehood issues by executing a bi-partisan and sustainable national education and awareness campaign. This adjustment is comprised of $856,000 in nonpersonal services costs, and $96,000 in personal services costs to support an additional 1.0 FTE that will function in the capacity of Associate Advocacy Director.

[2] Compare pending Bill B22-017, the District of Columbia Statehood Advocacy Act of 2017.

[3] James Iredell, at North Carolina’s 1789 ratifying convention.  Elliot’s Debates at 219-20, reprinted in 3 Philip B. Kurland & Ralph Lerner, The Founders’ Constitution 225 (1987).

[4] See testimony of Robert Ebel, Deputy CFO, Natwar M. Gandhi, CFO, at Public Oversight Roundtable on the Economic and Financial Impacts of Statehood for the District of Columbia, before the Special Committee on Statehood and Self-Determination, Council of the District of Columbia (July 13, 2009).

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Testimony of Ann Hume Loikow

Before the Committee on Government Operations

of the Council of the District of Columbia

on the FY 2018 Budget of the

Executive Office of the Mayor

Office of the City Administrator

Office of the Senior Advisor

Mayor’s Office of Legal Counsel and

Secretary of the District of Columbia

April 11, 2017

I am Ann Loikow and I am testifying on behalf of D.C. Statehood - Yes We Can!, a citizens coalition established in November 2008 to reignite the statehood movement. I would like to publicly endorse the testimony of David Bardin.

I am also a member of the Ward 3 Democratic Committee (“Committee”) and chair of the Statehood Task Force and am submitting for the record a resolution the Committee approved on January 26, 2017. The members of the Council should have individually received a copy from our chairman.

On November 8, District voters overwhelming voted for statehood. Given the strong popular support for statehood shown by the referendum, it is important that we keep the momentum going. The intense work last year to prepare for the referendum has shown that there is a lot more work, both substantive and political, needed to make statehood a reality.

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 District of Columbia and for planning on how to take back the state functions now performed by, or jointly with, the Federal Government.

Recognizing that some things have changed in the 35 years since our last constitutional convention, the people of the District strongly spoke out that we want to have a constitutional convention and that such a convention should be held as soon as possible. A constitutional convention 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.

A convention will allow more people to be involved in determining how we want our new state’s government to be structured.  There is a big difference between a government of a colony, designed by the people who control it to serve them and limit the power of the people, and a government designed by the people to govern themselves. Doing this, however, takes time, research, and careful thought and debate and can’t be rushed in a few weeks and 3 minutes of testimony.

In addition, 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. Funding is needed for the necessary feasibility, transition and financial analyses and studies, as well as for coordination with the Federal government on boundary issues and how functions now performed by or with  the Federal government should be transferred to the new state. We need to start this work now.

As Mr. Bardin mentioned in his testimony, we should also examine whether some of these functions, particularly our courts and criminal justice system, should and can be transferred before Congress admits us as a state. 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, particularly the post incarceration oversight agencies. Last winter, the Washington Post covered this issue focusing on some federal agencies such as the U.S. Probation Office (budget of $4.2 million) and the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA; budget $182 million) that might be appropriate entities to begin examining for early transfer.

Our Congresswoman, Eleanor Holmes Norton, has begun introducing legislation to begin transferring other federal functions. For example:

  • the District of Columbia Home Rule Clemency Act, introduced on March 28, 2017,
  • the District of Columbia National Guard Home Rule Act, introduced on March 21, 2017,
  • the District of Columbia Local Prosecutor Establishment Act of 2017, introduced March 15,  2017, and
  • the District of Columbia Courts and Public Defender Service Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments Act, which was approved by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on February 14, 2017.

It is noteworthy that the other U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Marianna Islands) already have local prosecutors to prosecute local crimes and the governors of the three territories that have national guards have authority to deploy them to protect their territory.

Now is the time to begin planning. The more we look like a state and show we can operate like one the more likely Congress will be to approve our admission. Even Rep. Jason Chaffitz was one of four House members who established a bipartisan coalition on criminal justice reform in 2015.

I am pleased that the Mayor has proposed to ask for $952,000 for a nationwide Statehood Campaign initiative.  Funding such a campaign was one of the three things the Ward 3 Democratic Committee endorsed in its resolution. Additional funds are also needed for preparing for a constitutional convention and beginning the feasibility studies and planning. Mr. Bardin suggested $500,000 for the latter.

The bottom line is that we need to put our money where our mouth is and show the people of D.C. that their strong desire for statehood has been heard and that our elected officials and government will work closely with the pepole to make it happen.

Attachments:

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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