District Digest: Fighting for the living wage and tragedy at the Navy Yard

Overriding the veto

After Mayor Vincent Gray announced his intention to veto the District’s proposed living wage bill last week, the bill’s proponents have urged District Councilmembers to rally and override the mayor’s veto.

The Large Retailer Accountability Act, if passed, will require D.C.’s large retailers to pay their workers 50 percent above the minimum wage, the reasoning behind the bill being that it takes more than the minimum wage to live in Washington. The D.C. Council passed the bill with an 8-5 vote, but it will take a 9-4 vote to overturn the veto.

Chairman Phil Mendelson has been the bill’s largest supporter, but even he is skeptical of the chance that one of the five councilmembers who voted against the bill will change their position. “We’ll see,” Mendelson said, according to Washington City Paper.

If anyone is willing to change their mind, that will likely be At-Large Councilmember David CataniaCity Paper reports that Catania considered supporting an altered version of the bill back in July, in exchange for backing on some of his proposed legislation for D.C. schools. Given that the bill cannot be altered at this stage of the process, it is still unlikely that Catania will give it his support.

This bill isn’t the only hope for higher wages for District workers, however. Councilmember Tommy Wells is expected to introduce legislation on Monday that will raise the city’s minimum wage to $10.25 per hour over the next two years.

Remembering the fallen

Monday’s shooting at the Washington Navy Yard has left the District reeling. 12 died at the hands of the sole shooter, Aaron Alexis, who worked in the military for several years prior to his death on Monday.

ABC Washington has posted a tribute page to the 12 victims, which includes quotes from family members of those who were killed.

What shocked many was Alexis’ troubled past, including an arrest in 2004 for shooting out the tires of a car, and how these past incidents could have slipped past the military’s background checks when Alexis was hired. The Post reports that a private contractor did a background check on Alexis but did not discover his arrest.

Weed legalization

It looks like some Voice columnists may be getting their wish. At-Large Councilmember David Grosso will introduce legislation to legalize, regulate, and tax the sale and possession of marijuana in the District.

Although decriminalization legislation has already been proposed, Grosso argues that decriminalization is not enough.

“My theory is that if we’re going to make marijuana legal, we should just do something to make up for all those years that someone had to live with a felony or misdemeanor charge,” Grosso said, according to WAMUWAMU also noted that part of the bill will allow residents will no longer be required to include past marijuana convictions on job or housing applications.

Much of the impetus for decriminalization and legalization efforts revolves around the shocking statistics concerning arrest rates for marijuana in D.C., which disproportionately affect young, black males.

Photo: afagen via Flickr

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