Friday, 31 October 2014 00:00

DC Council Looks to Streamline Statehood Efforts

Written by Hannan Hess | Roll Call
Mendelson and Gray both support new statehood efforts. Mendelson and Gray both support new statehood efforts. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

In the four decades since Home Rule, elected officials in the District of Columbia have created four different commissions aimed at making the city the 51st state. Looking at the current condition of those panels, it might be obvious why the flag only has 50 stars.

Each one has no members, according to D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson. None one of the four have been functioning for years, “if ever,” he said Monday at a briefing previewing the council’s Tuesday legislative agenda.

Included on that agenda is a complicated piece of legislation designed to streamline more than 200 mayor-appointed boards and commissions in D.C. would consolidate and bolster the statehood effort. Introduced in January 2013 as the “Boards and Commissions Reform Act,” the council recently revamped the bill by adding “New Columbia Statehood Initiative” to the title and injecting more than a quarter-of-a-million dollars into the fight.

The bill, expected to get a final vote Tuesday, would eliminate 31 panels deemed inactive or unnecessary, including the Statehood Commission, the Statehood Compact Commission, District of Columbia Statehood Delegation Fund Commission, and the 51st State Commission. It would establish two new independent agencies: the Office of Statehood Delegation, and the New Columbia Statehood Commission.

In its most recent budget, D.C. earmarked $225,800 under the Statehood Initiatives Agency. According to a fiscal impact statement from Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey S. DeWitt, that funding would be used to pay the salary of the OSD’s executive director. Any remaining money would support the New Columbia Statehood Fund.

To Josh Burch, a Brookland resident and city employee who has been devoting all his spare time to lobbying for statehood, it looks like the District is finally putting some “political muscle” behind the effort. “With funds, there’s an added responsibility” and a way to “hold people accountable for performance,” he said in an interview with CQ Roll Call. ”I don’t think we need more reports on statehood,” Burch said, referring to the output of previous statehood commissions. “We need a clear and concise plan forward … with people working on this full-time.”

The purpose of the OSD will be to provide support to the statehood delegation in promoting statehood and voting rights for the citizens of the District of Columbia, according to reports on the legislation. The executive director would be solely devoted to OSD, while the NCSC will solicit funding and promote statehood initiatives. NCSC will have five commissioners: the mayor, council chairman and the three members of D.C.’s shadow delegation, who effectively serve as unpaid lobbyists to Congress. The bill requires NCSC to meet semi-annually.

“This is a real opportunity to have an institutional way for the delegation to work with the mayor and the council chairman,” D.C. Shadow Sen. Paul Strauss told CQ Roll Call. “It’s more money than we’ve had in a while. … It’s a good start.” The Democrat, who has a law firm in D.C. and is up for re-election on Nov. 4, said a bill to provide full funding for the shadow delegation is more in line with “our initial approach,” but “there’s something positive about a coordinated effort that directly involves the executive and legislative branches.”

Mayor Vincent Gray supports the legislation. Mendelson described it as an effort to concentrate efforts and “build momentum,” but did not go into detail during the briefing about the approach the team would use.

As the man behind Neighbors United for D.C. Statehood, Burch thinks the office should coordinate citizens. He also thinks they should launch a national advocacy campaign. Perhaps most importantly, Burch wants consistency and “continuity” for the new office.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., was not immediately available for comment.

Link to original article from Roll Call

Read 4243 times

Statehood for DC

  • 1

Email President Obama Stop the Dakota Access Pipeline

Featured News

  • Veterans Arrive at Standing Rock to Act as 'Human Shields' for Water Protectors +

    As tensions grow in North Dakota, with multiple eviction orders facing the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their battle against Read More
  • Michigan Fights To Avoid Delivering Water To Flint Residents +

    The ongoing crisis has left the city without safe drinking water for over two years, but the state claims water Read More
  • The System IS Rigged!—The Electoral College and the 2016 Election +

    Donald Trump was right: the system is rigged! But it is rigged for the Republicans, not the Democrats, for conservatives, Read More
  • BREAKING: Cop Who Shot Keith Scott on Video Will Not Be Charged +

    The Charlotte police officer who killed Keith Lamont Scott will not be charged. In a news conference on Wednesday, R. Andrew Read More
  • Army Corps Says It Won’t Forcibly Evict Standing Rock Water Protectors, But Refuse To Elaborate +

    In a follow-up of its letter to leaders of the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes, the U.S. Read More
  • DAPL Investors Getting Antsy: If Pipeline Doesn’t Move Oil by January First the Contract EXPIRES +

    Though water protectors have held their ground at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access pipeline for months now, they need Read More
  • WV Supreme Court: No Pipeline Surveys for Private Gain +

    West Virginia property owners won an important case at the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals on Tuesday when that Read More
  • Clinton Campaign Joins Jill Stein’s Recount Of Votes In Wisconsin +

    Hillary Clinton’s campaign on Saturday announced they would participate in former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein’s recount of the Read More
  • Sioux Tribe Leader Responds to Army Corps Eviction Letter With Ominous Warning to US Gov’t +

    In response to the altogether shocking announcement the Army Corps of Engineers will be evicting water protectors from the Oceti Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • 19
  • 20
  • 21
  • 22

Featured DC Statehood News

  • Congressman Makes Up Statistics About Black People To Argue Against DC Statehood +

    Appearing at a town hall meeting Wednesday night, Congressman Andy Harris (R-MD) argued that Washington, D.C. should not be a Read More
  • D.C. Statehood Activists Raise A Liberty Pole, Set Up Camp In Front Of The Capitol (UPDATE) +

    Update: The National Park Service has granted the activists a permit to keep the liberty pole on the Mall through Read More
  • First Subway Ads for D.C. Statehood Now Appear in Five Metrorail Stations +

    During March, passengers using five Metrorail stations will be greeted by standing ads that draw a link between the D.C. Read More
  • Pot now legal in D.C. despite threats from Congress +

    Despite warnings from congressional Republicans, Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser allowed D.C.'s marijuana legalization law to take effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday. Read More
  • Protests begin as Congress tilts toward upending D.C. law legalizing pot +

    D.C. officials and activists for marijuana legalization launched a long-shot bid Wednesday to halt a federal budget deal that appeared Read More
  • D.C. Statehood Activists Looking Toward GOP Congress +

    If anyone understands what a “grungy game” politics can be, it’s Capitol Hill staffers. Read More
  • DC Council Looks to Streamline Statehood Efforts +

    In the four decades since Home Rule, elected officials in the District of Columbia have created four different commissions aimed Read More
  • Norton Says First Senate Hearing in Twenty Years Takes DC Statehood to a New Level +

    Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) said today that Senator Thomas Carper’s (D-DE) announcement of the first District of Columbia statehood Read More
  • National Democratic Group Joins Fight for DC Statehood +

    Progressive Democrats of America showed its support for D.C. statehood by including the issue in its August 2014 letter drop-off Read More
  • 1

Where Does Your Legislator Stand on the ERA?

ERAMap