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Sep 20
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D.C.'s Mayor, AG and CFO warn Council regarding Budget E-mail

D.C.'s new Chief Financial Officer, Attorney General and Mayor Vincent Gray warned D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson that the FY 2015 budget must go through the Congressionally mandated process set forth in the Home Rule Act and that the Council could not rely on the truncated process set forth in the budget autonomy referendum approved by 9% of D.C.'s registered voters in April 2013. For press coverage of this issue, read more.

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D.C. Budget Autonomy Referendum E-mail

The full Council voted on October 2, 2012 to hold a referendum to amend the District of Columbia's charter to authorize budget autonomy (i.e. remove Congress from having to approve how District tax funds are spent). This "strategy" was "masterminded" by D.C. Vote and the D.C. Appleseed Center, neither of which really supports statehood. What this referendum would do is ask for District voters' support for an interim colonial measure, the passage of which would take as much effort as getting statehood. Statehood would give us ALL our rights to self-government, including legislative and budget autonomy, permanently. This alternative method of amending the charter, the legality of which even our current Attorney General has questioned, would not prevent Congress from meddling in District budgetary affairs whenever it wanted, if Congress so decided. In addition, as it did in 1874, Congress could always decide to totally revoke our limited local "home rule" government. Only statehood is permanent. Why are we wasting our time and diluting our message on these legislative deadends?!

On January 4, 2013, D.C. Attorney General Irv Nathan sent a letter to the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics saying that he had "serious reservations about the legality" of trying to amend the Congressional budgetary oversight provisions of D.C. Home Rule Charter by referendum. At a hearing before the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics on January 7, 2013, he asked the Board to reject the referendum as a ballot question. On January 8, 2013, the Board disagreed and unanimously voted to include the referendum on the April 23, 2013 special election ballot. The voters approved the referendum (46,608 votes in favor of the charter amendment versus 7,396 against and 3,033 not voting). Only 11% of the registered voters voted in the election (and only 9% of registered voters approved the charter amendment).

The Mayor and the President have asked Congress to pass separate legislation granting the District budget autonomy regarding locally raised tax monies. Unlike the charter amendment, this would clearly be constitutional and within Congress's authority. However, Congress would still retain the power to revoke such authority at any time, unless the District (minus the Federal core) became a state. For more on this issue, enter "budget autonomy" in search box above.

 

 
D.C. AG questions legality of budget autonomy charter referendum E-mail

On January 4, 2013, D.C. Attorney General Irv Nathan set to a letter to the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics that he has serious rservatons about the legality of the Charter amendment referendum on budget autonomy that the Council passed in October. Mike DeBonis covered the story in an article published online on January 6, 2013 and in the printed edition of the Washington Post on January 7, 2013. Tom Howell, Jr. covered the hearing before the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics on January 7, 2013 in the Washington Times. Emma Dumain covered the D.C. Board of Election and Ethic's decision to approve putting the charter referendum on the April 23, 2013 special election ballot.

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Federal judge upholds D.C. gun regulations E-mail
Maria Glod reported in the March 27, edition of the Washington Post that U.S. District COurt Judge Richard Urbina upheld the gun laws that the District of Columbia passed to comply with the landmark 2008 Supreme Court ruling that struck down the city's decades-old ban on handgun possession.  Lyle Denniston reported on Scotusblog more detail about the ruling.
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