January 26, 2023 | Update

New Legislation, Statehood, and Public Safety

Newsletter, January 25, 2023



It’s the start of a new year, a new Council Period, and a new four-year term representing Ward 1 (thank you for your confidence in me!). I was thrilled to be sworn in on Jan. 2 with my family and my Council staff sharing the stage with me. I spoke about what makes Ward 1 great, and a few of the highlights of what we’ve accomplished together, such as establishing services to support people who frequent the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza and crafting and passing the Homes and Hearts legislation, which is providing $65 million more in housing vouchers each year, moving thousands of people into homes, many for the first time in decades.

Read my remarks from the swearing-in ceremony.


New Committee

I’m excited, too, to start a new chapter as Chair of the Public Works and Operations Committee. Having oversight of Public Works means I get to work with the agency to enhance services that affect our day-to-day quality of life. I’ve already given them a heads up that we want our public trash cans back! Too many have disappeared, and we need them to keep our space safe and clean.

A, B, C, D, and now E!

It’s also the start of two-year terms for newly elected and re-elected ANC commissioners all over the ward, including the brand-new ANC 1E(!) on the east side of the ward, which represents the greater communities of Park View, Pleasant Plains, and Howard University.

An ANC dedicated to Lower Georgia Avenue and its adjacent communities has been a goal of many for a long time. I’m proud to have been able to cast the final votes for ANC 1E’s creation and very thankful for the work of the Ward 1 Redistricting Task Force, which put together a new map that improves representation for Ward 1 residents in almost every way.

I’ve had the chance to swear in ANC members in ANC 1A, 1B and 1E, with the other two coming right up. Each ANC is made up of seven to 10 Single Member Districts, each represented by an elected commissioner. ANC’s are the smallest form of government in the District. Your commissioner represents just over 2,000 people – often just a few blocks. Your ANC raises the voice of your neighborhood, from sharing concerns and ideas for improvements with me, the Council, and the Mayor’s Office, to weighing in on liquor licenses and other matters that impact local neighborhoods. I strongly encourage you to attend an ANC meeting and to get to know your Single Member District representative.

You can find your ANC and your ANC commissioner here and view the schedule of upcoming ANC meetings and other activities at ANC1AANC1BANC1CANC1DANC1E.



Legislative Update

New Old Bills

At the end of every two-year Council Period, proposed bills that have not been fully approved by the Council lapse and must be reintroduced. This month I’m reintroducing several of my bills from last Council Period, starting with these four, which I reintroduced in the past two weeks:

  • Grounds for Divorce, Legal Separation and Annulment Amendment Act of 2023
    This legislation eliminates unnecessary and oppressive waiting periods for divorce that are particularly harmful to survivors of domestic violence. Originally introduced as "Elaine’s Law," for a D.C. resident who found herself bound by law to her abuser, and then defending her assets from him in her divorce settlement, I reintroduced this bill to address feedback since the 2019 hearing. Grappling with abuse is hard enough and the recovery is long. District law should not be the thing holding back people from leaving abusive relationships.

    Under current law, those wishing to divorce in the District are required to wait six or 12 months, even if both parties are in agreement. This bill also allows a family court judge to factor in evidence of intrafamily offenses when making a determination on alimony or property distribution. Domestic violence, for example, can cost women over $100,000 in their lifetime and men about $23,000. The bill would also allow a family court judge to award exclusive use of a family home to one of the parties. Councilmembers Lewis George, Pinto, and R. White and Chairman Mendelson are co-introducing this bill with me.
  • Banning Associations from Banning Youth (“BABY”) Amendment Act of 2023
    To ensure that District families can secure safe, affordable childcare, the BABY Act prohibits new and revised condo bylaws, rules, and regulations from excluding licensed childcare homes. When condos prevent or shut down child development centers, parents lose access to quality, affordable childcare. The legislation still allows condos to require child development homes to follow condo rules about parking, noise, and so on, and allows them to require appropriate insurance. In short, we can make it easier to provide quality childcare and balance that with the needs of building residents. This is especially important in areas of the District like our Ward, home to many families raising children in multifamily buildings, and close-knit communities within those buildings. Joining me in re-introducing this bill are Councilmembers Parker, Pinto, Bonds, Gray, and R. White.
  • Vulnerable Youth Guardianship Protection Amendment Act of 2023
    This legislation provides greater protection for vulnerable immigrant youth, 18 to 21, who have been subject to parental abuse, abandonment, neglect, or similar mistreatment. The bill would make technical adjustments to align the District’s laws with federal law, allowing eligible youth to apply for special federal immigration status, which, in turn, allows them to get work authorization, a Social Security number, housing assistance, federal financial aid for education, and other benefits. That is, it allows them to get supports and take care of themselves without unnecessary barriers. The legislation would also allow District courts to appoint legal guardians for them, something that has been shown to help reduce the risk of further abuse and provide ongoing support while they enter young adulthood and integrate into the community. Councilmembers Pinto, Gray, R. White, Bonds, and Allen are co-introducing this bill with me.
  • Losing Outdated, Violent Exceptions (“LOVE”) Amendment Act of 2023
    Under a law imposed by Congress in 1966, the District cannot intervene if a parent says they have a religious reason for refusing medical care for their child, even when that endangers the health or life of a child. Only Georgia and Mississippi share such an extreme exemption. The “LOVE” Act repeals this 1966 exemption to ensure that children’s lives are not endangered by neglect and that the same definition of neglect applies to all District parents and. Joining me in introducing this bill are Councilmembers Parker, Gray, and Bonds.

I’ll be re-introducing more pieces of legislation from last Council Period in the coming days and weeks and will keep you informed about them.

Make Your Voice Heard in the Performance Oversight Season

It’s time for the Council oversight and budget process to begin. This starts with a series of hearings in which Council committees ask District agencies to talk about their activities of the past year and to speak to any concerns raised by residents. In early spring, the Mayor will submit her budget proposal to the Council and committees will do another round of hearings with agency directors to learn more about how money will be spent and to make recommendations for adjustments to the Mayor’s proposed budget.

For performance and budget oversight hearings under my new Committee on Public Works & Operations, your one-stop shop is at brianneknadeau.com/testify There, you’ll find a form to sign up to testify before the committee, which will continue to be updated as hearing dates are confirmed.

Public Safety and the Revised Criminal Code Act

There’s been a lot in the news about the Revised Criminal Code Act (RCCA), which passed unanimously in the Council last month, including threats from Republicans in Congress to block its implementation.

We all have rational concerns about crime in our community and I hope this introduction will help you as you try to make sense of the many efforts to address it.

The RCCA is a very long bill, more than a dozen years in the making, involving many people and organizations, including law enforcement representatives. In short, the RCCA modernizes the outdated D.C. Criminal code, which was written into law more than a century ago. Criminal code revisions were a technical process that many states went through in the 1960s, updating and clarifying the elements needed to prove each crime on the books.

D.C.’s revised criminal code was assembled with largely the same goal – clarity in the law ensures a fairer trial for defendants, and it helps prosecutors, who sometimes decline to prosecute certain crimes because our century-old code made it hard to succeed in doing so. The revision does adjust some maximum sentences to make them proportional. For example, a person who robs someone at gunpoint or injures someone during a robbery should get a longer sentence than someone who snatches a purse, even though both are labeled robbery. That’s the benefit of a comprehensive code reform – we're able to simultaneously make our laws clearer, while adding nuance to how crimes are treated.

That bit about the maximum sentences has gotten a lot of attention and is the subject of a lot of misinformation. In reality, the maximum sentences in the RCCA are still much higher than the sentences that judges hand down today.

I won’t get too into the weeds of the bill here, but I’ll give you one example: carjacking. Under the current code, the maximum sentence for carjacking is 40 years. Under the revised code, the maximum is 24 years. Currently, judges rarely give more than 15 years; usually much less than that. And the RCCA allows for “stacking” sentences, so someone who carjacks with a gun, will get the carjacking charge and a gun charge. If that person causes an injury, they’ll get another charge.

The reality is that few maximums are reduced in the RCCA and, where they are, it has been to make them proportional to similar crimes. For example, in the existing code, the maximum for carjacking is much higher than for second-degree sexual assault and the same as for second-degree murder. And D.C.’s revised maximum is still greater than in many states, including those of some of the members of Congress who are threatening to block implementation of the revised criminal code, saying it is too “soft.”

We are talking here about maximum sentences. All of my colleagues agree that speed and efficacy of prosecution is the real deterrent to crime and study after study backs that up. By cleaning up the code so that it clarifies the elements of a crime and instills trust in the fairness of the law, prosecutors can move faster and more effectively, while also better protecting the civil liberties of residents.

One final note: It’s important to remember that the RCCA was passed by the Council in December. It will not go into effect until 2025 and has no effect on how prosecutors charge criminals or how judges and juries determine sentences until then.

I encourage you to read up about the code. This piece in Slate lays it out well. You can listen to Councilmember Brooke Pinto, the new chair of the Public Safety Committee, speaking with Kojo Nnamdi and Tom Sherwood about the bill on the Politics Hour last Friday. And these are my remarks to the full Council before voting to override the Mayor’s veto on Jan. 17.

All of us on the Council agree on the need to address violence in our community. And for holding criminals accountable, especially those who commit violent crimes. I welcome your comments and questions on this and all issues and I encourage you to attend next Brianne on Your Block in February – we'll share details via the newsletter (sign up here), on social media, and on our website.

New Congressional Majority, New Anti-D.C. Shenanigans
And, once more, why we need statehood

Now is a good time to pay attention to what’s happening in Congress as it relates to the right of D.C. residents to govern ourselves. House Republicans, who now have a slim majority, are already sticking their noses into our business. Already, they have tried to block a piece of legislation I introduced that was passed by the Council in October — the Local Resident Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2021 — and have changed the House rules so that the Mayor of D.C. no longer can set foot on the floor of the House, something every governor has the right to do, including the governors of two states with fewer residents than the District. We can anticipate more of this, including dangerous attempts to force the hands of Democratic representatives by including anti-D.C. “riders” in the budget bill. I pledge to fight these overreaches every step of the way.

We, the nearly 700,000 residents of the District, don’t always agree on what laws to pass and how to run our city, and that’s OK – that's how a democracy works. We discuss, debate, and make decisions. This is why it’s so important that Congress make the District into a state and why it’s critical that we keep up pressure on Republicans and Democrats to do so.

I want to thank our Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, who has been a tireless voice for D.C. statehood. Earlier this month she introduced statehood legislation in the House with 165 co-sponsors.

Community Updates

Future of the Reeves Center
Thursday, January 26, 6:30-9:30 p.m.

The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development is hosting a public meeting regarding the Reeves Center this Thursday, January 26, 6:30-9:30 p.m. at the D.C. Housing Finance Agency building, 815 Florida Avenue NW. Residents are welcome to participate in person or tuning in virtually.

You can learn more about the Reeves Center redevelopment at the DMPED Reeves website or via DMPED’s press release. And you can learn more about previous ANC 1B Community engagement efforts on the DMPED Economic Development Committee website under "Reeves Center."

Coffee & Conversation: Demystifying Your Credit Score
Café y Charla: Desmitificando su Puntuación de Crédito
Thursday, January 26, 1:30-3 p.m., Mt. Pleasant Library

Staff from Tzedek DC’s No Debts, No Doubts program will help you understand the ins and outs of your credit score so that you can feel empowered to take your next steps forward.

Un personal del programa Sin Deudas, Sin Dudas de Tzedek DC le ayudará a comprender los entresijos de su puntaje de crédito para que pueda sentirse capacitado para dar sus próximos pasos hacia adelante.

More/mas info at D.C. Library.

3rd District MPD Citizens Advisory Council Public Safety Community Meeting
Thursday, January 26, 7 p.m.

The 3rd District Citizens Advisory Council Public Safety Community Meeting is held the last Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. The next one is this Thursday, Jan. 26, 7 p.m., in person in the Community Room at 1620 V St NW. Come and hear from Commander Boteler. More info at 3DCAC.org or contact 3DCACDC@gmail.com

Where’s the school bus?

Does your child take an OSSE-DOT school bus? There’s now a web page for parents/guardians with daily information about impacts to the bus schedule. Stay up to date!

Not too late for leaf collection, or Christmas trees!

The D.C. Department of Public Works extended its leaf collection program until February 11, a result of bad weather days. Residents are reminded to rake their leaves to the curb or into the tree box at the front of their residence. They are currently collecting leaves in the B section in each Ward.

DPW is still collecting holiday trees and greenery curb side at the tree box or at the curb where there is not tree box from the front of only DPW-serviced households. Residents may also drop their holiday trees and/or greenery through March 3 at 3200 Benning Road, NE, or Guy Mason Recreation Center, 3600 Calvert Street, NW.


Share Your Ideas

Parks and Rec Master Plan

Ready2Play, the Department of Parks and Recreation’s new 20-year master plan is open for public comments through January 31. Read the plan, leave comments, and complete a survey. 

Leer el plan en español.


Truck & Bus Routes and Signage

The District uses an advisory designated truck and bus route network, which encourages but does not require heavy vehicles to travel along designated routes. The District also restricts buses and trucks (local deliveries excepted) on select residential streets, which are signed and enforced by the Metropolitan Police Department. This survey is a part of DDOT's Positive Truck/Bus Signage Study that will: a) estimate the costs and benefits of installing truck / bus route signs in support of a mandatory truck / bus route framework; b) develop a transition process; and c) design sign installation materials. Complete the survey.

Racial Equity Plan

The Districtwide Racial Equity Action Plan (REAP) maps out steps the D.C. government will take to reduce inequities and improve life for all Washingtonians.

The plan outlines some already-announced initiatives and focuses on steps that will be taken, such as in training and hiring practices, to make the District an equitable employer. The plan also aims to evaluate D.C. programs through a racial equity lens.

The mayor is seeking input from residents on what should be inside the plan. Share your thoughts through January 31.

Se puede leer el plan REAP en español.

Contact Us! 

Main Office 

Brianne K. Nadeau | Councilmember | bnadeau@dccouncil.gov

Jaqueline E. Castaneda | Communications & Constituent Services Specialist | Jcastaneda@dccouncil.gov

David Connerty-Marin | Communications Director | dconnertymarin@dccouncil.gov

Tania Jackson | Senior Advisor | tjackson@dccouncil.gov

Lauren Lipsey | Constituent Services Specialist | llipsey@dccouncil.gov

Maricela Nava | Deputy Chief of Staff & Scheduler | mnava@dccouncil.gov

Kevin Pham | Deputy Director of Constituent Services | kpham@dccouncil.gov

Nicole Rivero | Chief of Staff | nrivero@dccouncil.gov 


Legislative & Committee Staff

Eric Irving | Committee Director | Committee Director | eirving@dccouncil.gov

David Meni | Deputy Chief of Staff & Legislative Director | dmeni@dccouncil.gov


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