DC Chamber Government Affairs Update – May 2022

In our efforts to keep our Chamber members up to date, we will be sending an update on the DC Chamber of Commerce’s government affairs and advocacy work. What follows are highlights of our Government Affairs team work on behalf of Chamber members over the past several months.

DC Candidate Forums: The Chamber hosted a series of candidate forums for the 2022 DC Council primary election on June 21st. These events held April 29 and May 6 offered lively, issue-focused conversations with major candidates in all five of this year’s Democratic party primary elections for DC Council seats. Over the course of two days, there were over 100 people in attendance and over 425 live stream viewers. We want to thank our sponsors for supporting these important discussions including DC Building Industry Association, Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, Federal City Council, Apartment & Office Building Association of Metropolitan Washington (AOBA), and the Greater Washington Black Chamber of Commerce.

DC Council Scorecard: In tandem with our candidate forums, the Chamber will soon release its first-ever Council Scorecard highlighting individual Councilmember votes on key issues. The Scorecard will include significant tax and regulatory initiatives impacting the city’s ability to compete for residents, workers, capital and, most important, jobs.

The following reflects a summary of the Chamber’s strategic business coalition outreach and direct advocacy to the DC Council on key legislation:

  • “Non-Compete Conflict of Interest Clarification Amendment Act of 2021” (B24-0256): The Chamber has steadfastly promoted efforts over the last 18 months to fix a new law that severely restricts employers’ freedom to enforce non-compete agreements with both current and former employees. Leading a broad and diverse coalition of employers and advocacy groups, the Chamber has worked with its partners, chamber members, and the bill sponsor to fine-tune and improve this new corrective legislation. We anticipate the full Council will act on the bill later this year.
  • “Prohibition on Marijuana Testing Act of 2021” (B24-0109): Once again, the Chamber has dedicated considerable time and energy over the last several months to fundamentally rework and improve upon legislation to preserve an employer’s ongoing ability to protect the safety of its workforce, its customers and members of the public who engage with its employees. Specifically, this bill prohibits employers from taking an employment action against employees for the use of marijuana unless it meets certain conditions. The Council unanimously approved the measure on First Reading earlier this month, and we expect the bill to advance to a final Council vote in the coming weeks.
  • “Business and Entrepreneurship Support to Thrive Amendment Act of 2021” (B24-301): This comprehensive legislation seeks to reform the District’s cumbersome basic business licensing process to make it cheaper, faster and simpler, particularly for micro-businesses and start-ups. The Chamber has worked with other pro-growth organizations to promote the bill and it is expected to advance to a vote of the full Council later this year.
  • “Universal Paid Leave Portability Amendment Act of 2022” (B24-0661): The Chamber is working to defeat this measure, which would require employers in certain circumstances to extend Universal Paid Leave benefits to former employees. Efforts by the bill sponsor to include the measure in the current budget have thus far been unsuccessful, but the Chamber anticipates further legislative action later this year and will continue to monitor and provide updates to members.

The Fiscal Year 2023 Budget:

The Council is now conducting final deliberations on a budget proposal Mayor Bowser submitted to it earlier this spring. These are the Chamber’s top budget priorities:

  • Opposition to including in the budget a new round of tax increases on businesses and/or residents.
  • Opposition to further expansion of the controversial Universal Paid Leave program (see UPL bill discussion above).
  • Support for small businesses, including budgeting for public grants, below-market-rate loans, technical assistance and relief from unnecessary regulatory burdens.
  • Support for additional budget resources to curb the rise in violent crime in the District, including funding to recruit, hire and train additional Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers, expand the MPD Cadet Program and support gun violence prevention initiatives.

Please contact us at [email protected] with your questions and suggestions!

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