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Final Legislative Meeting for Council

The D.C. Council has a lot to wrap up today, its final legislative session before recessing until September.

Put the emergency gun bill announced yesterday at the top of the list. That proposed legislation, which calls for residents to pass eye and written exams, complete background checks and submit their weapon for ballistic testing, became a joint effort of the council and the executive branch.

It seems the U.S. Supreme Court ruling against the city's tough handgun ban, did what nothing else could: brought the executive and legislative branches together during a year of bickering and one-upmanship.

It should not be minimized, for instance, that Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) and Interim Attorney General Peter J. Nickles found a way to collaborate on the bill. Who knows what went on behind closed doors between Mendelson, the frequent outspoken critic of the administration, and Nickles, who, let's just say isn't known for sweetness and light.

Whatever the case, it looks, as District officials acknowledged yesterday, that there's a good chance they'll all be in court together as dissatisfied gun rights activists challenge the city's efforts. Alan Gura, the lawyer who defeated the District before the Supremes, said as much yesterday.

But guns aren't the only issue on today's agenda.

A couple of other important educational issues will also be taken up today as the council votes on school renovation plans and tries to figure out what to do about a plan to convert closing Catholic Schools to charter schools. Each one of them critical issues with millions of dollars at stake and some hard feelings to sort through.

It's no secret that the council has felt excluded from school reform though it stood in support of the mayor's takeover plans. And charter schools offer an entire new level of frustration as council members step up efforts to hold the system more accountable. So the idea of bringing in new schools while they haven't gotten a good hold of those already existing hasn't set well with some elected officials.

Those underlying questions won't all be successfully sorted out as the council does its business today, and you can bet you'll see them when the session resumes in September.

Maybe during the break, the council and school officials could also find themselves an issue that can go before the Supreme Court, too.

And the city had already battled liquor stores in court over banning the sale of single bottles and cans of malt liquor, beer or ale in Ward 4 and won. Ward council members continue to push for more and more neighborhoods to be covered by the same prohibition. Today, the council is scheduled to vote on bans in wards 2 and 6 and in Mount Pleasant in Ward 1.

Those votes could lead to some legal issues since the bans differ a bit in approach. Should an Advisory Neighborhood Commission be in charge of curbing sales or should the council?

By Marcia Davis  |  July 15, 2008; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. Council  
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