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Pages tagged "fair elections"

Coalition Updates

Clean Energy DC!

In December 2019, after years of relentless community pressure by the DC Climate Coalition, the DC Council passed the Clean Energy DC Act:

  • The District will be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2032. This puts DC on the fastest timeline to 100% renewable electricity among states in the country, faster even than California!
  • The bill creates groundbreaking efficiency standards for existing buildings. Buildings account for 74% of the District’s greenhouse gas emissions.
  • This landmark legislation takes aim at emissions from electricity and natural gas use. It scales up the existing Sustainable Energy Trust Fund (SETF) utility fee, which will raise tens of millions of dollars to finance renewable energy and energy efficiency projects and provide assistance to low-income DC residents.
  • The Clean Energy DC Act will fund local programs to assist low-income residents as the city transitions to more sustainable clean energy systems, and create a clean energy workforce development program.
  • Finally, the Act begins to tackle transportation, the #1 driver of climate pollution nationwide. It does so by adjusting the vehicle excise tax to incentivize clean cars and make owning dirty vehicles more expensive. The Mayor is now authorized to put a price on transportation fuels with a DC carbon fee if Virginia and Maryland commit to the same, and to join DC to emerging regional efforts like the Transportation Climate Initiative.

The DC Climate Coalition will continue to push for progressive environmental policies in DC. If you are interested in serving as a ONE DC representative on the DC Climate Coalition, please email Claire at ccook@onedconline.org.


End Pay to Play Politics
!

In early December, the DC Pay to Play Coalition organized to pass sweeping campaign finance reform in the District of Columbia including a new pay to play law. The DC Council passed the Campaign Finance Reform Amendment Act of 2018 (B22-0107) unanimously on December 4th. Mayor Bowser did not veto the bill, but did not sign it either, which means it will become law after an obligatory 30 day Congressional review period. The legislation will:

  • Restrict major government contractors from making campaign contributions to those responsible for issuing the contracts, addressing ongoing concerns about “pay to play” politics
  • Ensure the independence form political interference of the campaign finance enforcement agency
  • Enhance the disclosure requirements for money in District elections and require that “independent” expenditures be truly independent of candidates
  • Mandate training of all candidates and campaign treasurers of the campaign finance and ethics laws

Congratulations to everyone in the DC Pay to Play coalition! Jews United for Justice, DC for Democracy, Campaign Legal Center, ONE DC, Empower DC, People For the American Way, the Ward 3 Democrats, DC NOW, Franciscan Action Network, the Brennan Center for Justice and DC for Reasonable Development.

Decriminalize Fare Evasion!

In January 2019, the “Fare Evasion Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2018 was successfully passed. This bill makes evading fare on WMATA buses and trains a civil offense punishable by a fine, rather than a crime that can result in arrest, jail time, and/or a fine of up to $300.The zero-tolerance criminal enforcement of low-level offenses like fare evasion by Metro Transit Police has a negative impact on all District residents. It has proven especially harmful to young people and to poor Black and brown residents who rely on public transit the most and who are disproportionately targeted by police enforcement.

After the DC Council voted to pass the bill in late 2018, Mayor Bowser vetoed the bill. With her veto, the Mayor put in jeopardy this important criminal justice reform that will prevent hundreds of Black DC residents from unwarranted arrests, jail-time, and criminal records for failure to pay a $2 fare (91% of fare evasion enforcement has targeted Black riders). Thanks to broad community support, the Council voted 11-2 to override the Mayor's veto, protecting the bill.


Elections for the People

By Ericka Taylor, DC Fair Elections Coalition
After a multi-year campaign, on March 13, 2018, the Fair Elections Act of 2017, designed to empower small donors and democratize the city’s electoral system, officially became law. The legislation establishes a voluntary public-financing system that will match small donations, allowing candidates to focus on meeting with their constituents instead of having to dial for dollars from developers, wealthy donors, and big corporations. Thanks to a 5:1 matching system, someone who can only afford to give $25 is making, with the match, a $150 donation. This means that working families and people of color will not only be better able to participate in the political system as donors, but they’ll face fewer financial barriers to running for office.


With the passage of fair elections, we can begin correcting the current imbalance among DC donors, who are in no way representative of the city’s population. Historically, these donors have been wealthier, whiter, and more male than the city as a whole, which gives candidates a skewed view of local priorities. The fact that only a quarter of the city’s adults make more than $100,000 a year, but 61% of mayoral donors and 59% of council donors do, indicates a problem with our democracy. The fact that 62% of mayoral donors and 67% of council donors are white, but white people only make up 37% of the population, shows that we’re not reaching our democratic ideals. Fair elections, which candidates can begin using in 2020, should upend those statistics.

Although the mayor signed the legislation after the council approved it with a unanimous vote, the path to victory was far from short and easy. An earlier effort failed several years ago, and the Fair Elections Coalition began working on the campaign in 2015, when passage was far from a certainty. Furthermore, the mayor publicly articulated disinterest in signing the legislation multiple times. The diligent work of coalition members to show grassroots support made a significant difference.

In addition to ONE DC, DC for Democracy, Fair Budget Coalition, DC Working Families, Demos, DC Sierra Club, Public Citizen, and US PIRG, dozens of other organizations pitched in, helping gather over 5,000 petitions from residents in every ward. Coalition members also delivered to the mayor a letter of support signed by more than 80 community leaders across the city. With the mayor including the initial funding for the law in the city’s next budget, the city is well on its way to right-sizing our democracy. You can find more about the legislation and how it works here.