October 24, 2022

Ward 3 Update: Fall Legislative Efforts

Dear Neighbors,

The end of the Council period is fast approaching, which means a flurry of legislative activity. Any legislation that is not passed by the end of the year will have to be reintroduced next year. The Committee on Transportation and the Environment, which I chair, has held hearings on lead service lines, environmental standards, booting and towing, traffic safety, and more.

One issue near and dear to my heart is caring for the animals of the District. Last year, I introduced B24-0560, the Animal Care and Control Omnibus Amendment Act of 2021. This omnibus makes several changes to our animal policies, including authorizing animal control vehicles to operate emergency lights and sirens when responding to life threatening emergencies, banning dogfighting tools, equipment, and cat declawing, and addressing pet ownership in divorce. The Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety held a hearing in February, and I am hopeful the legislation will be marked up and passed very soon.

Additionally, I was proud to introduce B24-0710, the Migratory Local Wildlife Protection Act of 2022, which would require buildings to use bird friendly materials in construction. Millions of birds die every year from collisions with glass, and using slightly different materials makes the glass more visible to birds and helps prevent these deaths. The Committee of the Whole held a hearing on the legislation just last Friday.

There are many other important pieces of legislation moving through the Council, and I look forward to getting as much good work done as possible in my last two months as your Ward 3 Councilmember.




Upcoming Events


Sierra Club Environmental Service Award

I was truly humbled and honored to receive the Sierra Club's Environmental Service Award, which "honors persons in public service for long-term commitment to the environment and/or environmental justice." The Sierra Club is one of the most important and influential environmental organizations in the nation, and I am grateful to have had their support on so many of my initiatives over my 16 years on the Council. The national Sierra Club held a virtual event to celebrate all of their award winners in September, and the local chapter held an in-person celebration in October.


Election Day

As you know, Election Day is on Tuesday, November 8th. Every registered voter should have received a ballot in the mail. You can return the ballot through the mail, or at one of DC BOE's secure drop boxes before 8pm on Election Day. Ward 3's drop boxes are located in the following places:

  • Guy Mason Recreation Center - 3600 Calvert Street, NW
  • Chevy Chase Library - 5625 Connecticut Avenue, NW
  • Tenley-Friendship Library - 4450 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
  • Cleveland Park Library - 3310 Connecticut Avenue, NW
  • Palisades Library - 4901 V Street, NW
  • Second District Police Station - 3320 Idaho Avenue, NW

Early voting will take place from Monday, October 31st, to Sunday, November 6th, from 8:30am-7pm. Ward 3's early voting locations are:

  • Chevy Chase Community Center - 5601 Connecticut Avenue, NW
  • Cleveland Park Library (Multi-Purpose Room) - 3310 Connecticut Ave, NW
  • University of the District of Columbia (Student Center) - 4200 Connecticut Avenue, NW

Finally, you can vote on Election Day, from 7am-8pm, at the following locations:

  • Palisades Recreation Center (Gymnasium) - 5200 Sherier Place, NW
  • Annunciation Church (Church Hall) - 3810 Massachusetts Ave, NW
  • Oyster Bilingual School (Gymnasium) - 2801 Calvert Street, NW
  • Janney Elementary School (Multi-Purpose Room) - 4130 Albemarle Street, NW
  • Capitol Memorial Church (Fellowship Hall) - 3150 Chesapeake Street, NW
  • Murch Elementary School (Gymnasium) - 4810 36th Street, NW
  • Horace Mann Elementary School (Multi-Purpose Room) - 4430 Newark Street, NW

For more details, you can visit the Board of Elections website.


National Consumers League Florence Kelley Consumer Leadership Award

I thoroughly enjoyed attending the National Consumers League's Trumpeter Awards dinner on October 6th. Dr. Francis Collins and Xavier Bacerra both received the Trumpeter Award, and I received the Florence Kelley Award. I am so supportive of the work the National Consumers League does, and was honored to be recognized.


LOOP Launch at Giant

On Thursday, I attended the ribbon cutting for LOOP, a new reusable packaging system at Giant. You can purchase a product in LOOP packaging, and when it's empty, return it to Giant (3336 Wisconsin Avenue NW) to be cleaned, refilled, and reused. This is a great way for us to reduce our consumption of single-use plastics and make a difference simply while grocery shopping.


Safeway Feast of Sharing

On Wednesday, November 23rd, the day before Thanksgiving, Safeway and Events DC will host a grab-and-go event at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center (801 Mount Vernon Place NW). Seniors are welcome starting at 10am, and everyone else starting at 11am, to pick up meal boxes and gift bags with winter accessories and other items. A COVID and flu vaccine clinic will also be offered.


Cleveland Park Main Street Winter Market

Cleveland Park Main Street will host its second annual Winter Market on Saturday, December 10th, from 2-7pm on the 3400 block of Connecticut Avenue NW. Local artisans are invited to sell their unique gifts. To become a vendor, fill out the form here by noon on Thursday, November 10th.


In The News

Excerpts from the articles appear below. To read the full article, click on the headline.

DCist: D.C. Aims To Make Plastic Bag Recycling Easier

“The whole point of this is really to get these kinds of plastics into the recycling process,” says Council member Mary Cheh (Ward-3), who sponsored the bill. “We can’t do it in the conventional way because the machinery that we use gets all mucked up with with the plastics.”

In 2010, D.C. was one of the first jurisdictions in the country to adopt a bag fee to cut down on plastic bag litter and waste. Other local counties in Maryland and Virginia have followed suit in recent years. The idea is to encourage consumers to bring their own reusable bags, rather than using disposable plastic ones, but there are still millions of plastic bags used in D.C. each year.

Last year, the District collected nearly $2 million from its five cent bag fee — meaning D.C. retailers handed out roughly 40 million disposable bags. A big number — but a fraction of the 22 million bags handed out per month before the bag fee went into effect. Money from the bag fee funds numerous environmental initiatives to improve the health of the District’s rivers, including stream restoration, green infrastructure, trash traps, and watershed education.

“We have a lot of bags out there,” says Cheh. “Also, people get a lot of materials from stores that has plastic wrapping and other kinds of plastics connected with it.”

Washington City Paper: Mary Cheh Is Steaming After Anita Bonds Neutered Her Bill Aimed at Combating Senior Hunger

Let’s back up: Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh has been working on the issue for well over a year now, convening a work group on food insecurity, then introducing legislation last October to better coordinate the city’s efforts to feed seniors. Her bill would push a variety of city agencies to better utilize federal programs that could get food to older people, and create an interagency task force that could pull together all the disparate programs across the D.C. government and make them work together.

Cheh’s bill picked up seven co-introducers and scored a hearing back in February, where it earned near unanimous support from advocates, two good signs that it was on its way to passing. Yet the legislation has languished in Bonds’ committee ever since, even though she was among the lawmakers to introduce the bill. Bonds’ panel primarily deals with housing, but a recent change to move the decidedly unrelated issue of “executive administration” under her purview ensured that she also has oversight of the Department of Aging and Community Living, which Cheh’s bill is primarily aimed at changing.

In mid-September, Bonds suddenly changed course, introducing her own “Senior Nutrition and Well-Being Equity Amendment Act” without moving Cheh’s forward. Besides lacking the snappy title of Cheh’s “No Senior Hungry Omnibus Amendment Act,” it stripped many of the new requirements for agencies and axed the interagency panel in favor of a “community-led task group” of seniors to advise DACL. Advocates were particularly galled that the bill leaves in references to a “Senior Food Security Plan” that appeared in Cheh’s legislation, but doesn’t actually require anyone to produce such a plan. That would’ve been the interagency task force’s job, but with that section removed, the plan simply floats in the ether...

...“I don’t even want to say it’s a pale comparison to the bill that we put forward because it’s useless,” Cheh says, noting that the latest data suggest that D.C. still leads the nation with 13 percent of its seniors living with food insecurity. “Maybe she wants to have a bill of her own making to make some claims about what she’s doing as she’s in a reelection campaign. I don’t know.”

Bonds spokesman Kevin B. Chavous argues that his boss is a “full supporter” of Cheh’s bill and is only moving this other legislation because she had trouble getting necessary data from DACL and other impacted agencies to the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, which is required to estimate the fiscal impacts of Council legislation. Since any bill that doesn’t pass before the end of the year will need to be re-introduced (as the Council period ends), Chavous says Bonds saw it as “crucial to get some version of legislation passed in order to address the problem.”

“This is not an indication of her not supporting the original bill, it’s more so about doing something that’s achievable right now in the face of the agencies not being responsive,” Chavous says.

Bonds herself made similar arguments at an Oct. 11 hearing she convened on her senior hunger legislation, claiming she worked for “many months” to get a fiscal impact statement finished on the bill, to no avail, and her alternative was “proposed in earnest to at least move the ball forward.” Cheh finds those claims “completely disingenuous.”

“It’s just an excuse,” Cheh says. “I have introduced and passed bills of far greater complexity, with challenges in obtaining the fiscal impact statement, and we would get it. She has had months and months and months to do that. And she said, ‘Well, I’ve been trying.’ Well, not hard enough … She’s covering for the agency that doesn’t want to have additional responsibilities. It’s the agency’s apathy.”...

...Chavous says Bonds is “certainly going to push” to add elements of Cheh’s bill back into her legislation, should fiscal impact estimates make it her way. But otherwise, Bonds seems intent on moving her bill forward, not Cheh’s—it will likely need a committee mark-up before it heads to the full Council, which would have to take two votes on it before the end of the year.

If Bonds does so, Cheh says she will use some parliamentary maneuvering to bring her original bill back up for a vote, perhaps by moving it as an “amendment in the nature of a substitute” to Bonds’ bill, swapping in her language instead. That’s an aggressive move, but she suspects her colleagues would support her, since her legislation has already been vetted and attracted the full support of advocates. It’s also a bit of a legacy issue for Cheh, who has been hoping to get this bill done before she retires at the end of the year.

“I’m leaving, so I don’t matter anymore, and she’s probably staying, so maybe my colleagues don’t want to go to a full-court press on this,” Cheh says. “I don’t know what the dynamic will be. But I’m going to try.”

Huston certainly hopes she succeeds. If she doesn’t, Huston is not sure where advocates will turn instead. She doesn’t expect working with Bonds will be all that productive, considering that her office “wasn’t communicating with the advocacy community” about the status of Cheh’s legislation for months before introducing her own bill seemingly “under cover of night.” She may well need to cast about for a new champion on the Council, and find someone who isn’t quite so daunted by the challenges of wringing information from city agencies.


Our Office is Open!

Connect with our staff - While Councilmember Cheh's physical office is closed during the public health emergency, she and her staff are teleworking and will remain accessible for residents.

You may continue to reach us via email or phone through our main line at (202) 724-8062 with legislative ideas, budget requests, and constituent services requests.