Councilmember Kenyan R. McDuffie Statement Upon
Passage of Emergency Legislation in Response to Coronavirus
the Council of the District of Columbia passed legislation to
provide emergency relief to the residents and small businesses of
the District of Columbia in the face of an unprecedented public
is true that we find ourselves in unchartered territory, I have
found hope and optimism in seeing all branches of government,
businesses, residents, and staff come together to find solutions
during this time of crisis.
time we began working on this emergency legislation late last week
until now, the District and indeed the country has found itself in
both a literal and figurative state of emergency. My first
commitment is ensuring that residents, neighbors, colleagues, and
staff are safe and receive the essential support needed to maintain
a sense of certainty and stability even while we face the unknown.
Chairman of the Committee on Business and Economic Development, I
have reached out to small business owners, labor unions, and
industry associations to hear their concerns. My staff and I have
been working around the clock to make sure the measure before us
includes resources to mitigate the almost certain economic
uncertainty that will be the result for many workers and
worked tirelessly to hear concerns from workers and the business
community and to include provisions that would provide immediate
emergency legislation includes a provision that would establish a
small business grant program that would allow grants to be
disbursed to eligible businesses, including non-profits and
independent contractors to help with operating expenses, cover
wages, and to pay back loans.
with the Council Chairman, the Mayor, and the District's Chief
Financial Officer (CFO) to identify tax relief, including the
postponement of property tax for the hotel industry, which the CFO
highlighted as one of our major industries and employers, and one
severely impacted by the crisis. This legislation contains a
deferral of sales taxes for small businesses, which serves as an
interest-free loan to small businesses.
includes provisions that would prohibit evictions of residential as
well as small business tenants and prohibit the disconnection of
gas, water, and electric service for all.
expanded paid leave for certain individuals, loosened time
restrictions on prescription refills so residents can access larger
quantities of their medications and worked with Councilmember
Silverman to expand unemployment insurance to include workers impacted
by the public health emergency.
of these provisions will undoubtedly go a long way in supporting
residents, employees, and employers, I know that, unfortunately,
this emergency measure cannot meet the vast and varied needs of
every worker or every member of the small business community.
retailers, especially restaurants, simply do not have the cash
reserves or lines of credit that would allow them to temporarily
close yet survive a prolonged shutdown. These are mom and pop
shops, everyday people who have invested—in many cases—all that
they have, into their businesses.
here is simply to help as many people as we can with the limited
resources that exist.
Council has the opportunity, right now, at this moment, to show the
more 700,000 residents of our city that we have their backs. To
show the workers who drive this economy, to show the entrepreneurs
who dared to innovate, the people who have contributed to the
culture and vibrancy of this city, that we support them, by
providing relief as we continue to navigate this crisis.
know that the paramount concern is ensuring the health of our
community while providing the long term fiscal health of our
city. We must also recognize that for many of our most vulnerable
residents and small businesses, this is a matter of survival.
employed by the District of Columbia Government has the security of
receiving their paycheck every two weeks. Many small business
owners, hourly workers, and independent contractors do not.
that not everyone is making trips to the store to stock up on
groceries. Not everyone who may need to self-quarantine can do so.
Not everyone has the option to telework because their employer had
to make the unfortunate decision to close its doors for good.
colleagues and I have worked tirelessly to craft this emergency
measure and to try to navigate the challenges that we now face. The
reality is, despite our best efforts, this bill will not provide
enough to help every person who is in need. Knowing that we must
remain vigilant and continue monitoring the economic condition on
the ground, in real-time. And where we are financially able to do
so, provide more to District small businesses, workers, and
families in need."
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