For Immediate Release:
January 8, 2013
Washington, DC – Today, during the first legislative meeting of Council Period 20, Councilmember Kenyan R. McDuffie (D- Ward 5) introduced several bills aimed at promoting economic development throughout the District, improving the quality of life for many of the city’s residents, and tackling campaign finance reform.
“I am very excited about Council Period 20 and ready to get to work on some of the key issues facing our city,” said McDuffie. “These bills represent a positive step toward in addressing tough issues like campaign finance reform and promoting economic activity throughout Ward 5, as well as a way for us to provide vital services that meet the needs of our most vulnerable residents.”
As Chair of the Committee on Government Operations, Councilmember McDuffie has devoted his full attention to matters of campaign finance reform and ethics. With those principles in mind, McDuffie introduced, along with Chairman Phil Mendelson (D), the “Money Order Tiered Contribution Limit Amendment Act of 2013.” This bill would limit money order contributions to 5 percent of the maximum an individual can contribute to a political candidate.
“It is imperative that the Council take serious action toward campaign finance reform,” said McDuffie. The bill creates a tiered system of caps on the maximum amount of a money order contribution to a political campaign. For a Mayoral candidate, where the individual contribution limit is $2,000, a money order could not exceed 5 percent of $2,000, or $100.
“I believe a 5 percent threshold strikes an appropriate balance. It’s important that we balance the desire for political participation with the regulation of money orders, which have been used as a means to conceal the identity of the underlying donor. This approach allows donors to utilize money orders in an amount proportional to the scope of the race they are supporting, and discourages those who seek to use money orders to conceal donor identity.”
To capitalize on the rise of local handcrafted small-batch breweries and spirit distilleries that have set up shop in the District of Columbia Councilmember McDuffie, along with Councilmembers Tommy Wells (D – Ward 6) and David Grosso (I – At-Large), introduced the “Distillery Pub Licensure Act of 2013.” This bill creates a distillery pub license, similar to a brew pub license.
“The District is considered one of the most brewery dense areas in the country, and I am pleased that many of these breweries are located in Ward 5,” said McDuffie. “This bill will bring a significant economic impact to our Ward and the city by creating new jobs and tax revenue generated by increased sales of craft distilled spirits.”
Recently, the District government issued occupancy permits for its first medical marijuana cultivation center and dispensary. Due to the overconcentration of cultivation centers and dispensaries in Ward 5, Councilmember McDuffie introduced the “Medical Marijuana Cultivation Center and Dispensary Location Restriction Amendment Act of 2013,” limiting the number of cultivation centers and dispensaries that may locate in a ward. Currently there are six cultivation centers approved for registration in the city. Five of the six cultivation centers are located in Ward 5. There is also one dispensary currently approved for registration in Ward 5.
“It is important not to allow these cultivation centers and dispensaries to disproportionately fall upon one Ward,” said McDuffie. “The residents of my ward consider the location of five cultivation centers and one dispensary to be more than their fair share. Ensuring that cultivation centers and dispensaries are equitably distributed across the city’s wards will facilitate both balance and access.”
The bill, if passed, would allow for five medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the city and gives the Mayor permission to increase that number to eight. It also allows no more than six cultivation centers per ward. The legislation would allow for two dispensaries per ward, but in a ward where there are five cultivation centers registered to operate, there is a further limitation allowing only one dispensary.
Lastly, Councilmember McDuffie also re-introduced the “District of Columbia Fire and Casualty Amendment Act of 2013.”
Currently, the District of Columbia does not require insurers to notify applicants for homeowners insurance that flood insurance is available for purchase. The “Fire and Casualty Amendment Act of 2013” would require insurers to provide a written statement to the applicant, at the time the application is made, explaining that a standard homeowner’s insurance policy does not cover losses from flood and an explanation of how flood insurance may be obtained. Councilmember McDuffie introduced this bill in direct response to the series of floods that occurred in the Bloomingdale and LeDroit Park neighborhoods.
“For homeowners to make sound decisions, it’s important that they know exactly what their insurance policy covers,” said McDuffie. “While this bill will not solve the flooding problems throughout the District, I am committed to pursuing every avenue possible, and ensuring that our residents have a clear understanding of flood insurance is one step in the right direction.”
The “Money Order Tiered Contribution Limit Amendment Act of 2013,” the “Distillery Pub Licensure Act of 2013,” the “Medical Marijuana Cultivation Center and Dispensary Location Restriction Amendment Act of 2013,” and the “District of Columbia Fire and Casualty Amendment Act of 2013” were respectively referred to the Committee on Government Operations; the Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs; the Committee on Health; and the Committee on Human Services. Each bill received immediate co-sponsors on the dais.