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Posted at 5:11 PM ET, 12/21/2010

Council enacts a few last-minute measures

By Ann E. Marimow

In its last meeting of the session, the D.C. Council approved several pieces of legislation Tuesday covering a range of issues -- from setting up guidelines at homeless shelters to extending rules for rent control. The measures require the signature of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty.

  • SHELTER ID. New legislation would require homeless families to provide proof of District residency before they could receive shelter. The bill responds to a growing demand for shelter at a time when the District has limited budget resources. Officials have said that about 10 percent of families seeking emergency shelter over the summer were not city residents. Homeless families seeking shelter would have to demonstrate ties to the city, such as an address valid within the last two years.
  • TRAVEL TAX. Online travel vendors, such as Expedia.com and Orbitz.com, would be required to base their hotel tax payments to the District on the sales price of a room. Currently, according to council members, online travel vendors base the payments on the cheaper wholesale price. The change is expected to generate $10 million, but online travel vendors could take the issue to court if Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) signs the legislation.
  • OPEN GOVERNMENT. A bill would strengthen the city's Open Meetings Act by requiring more government boards to hold their meetings in public view. But the legislation includes a provision that would allow the D.C. Council to opt out of the requirement once it adopts its own standards. Council members also exempted the panel's committees from the new regulations.
  • DON'T ASK. Backed a measure that would forbid District government agencies from inquiring on a job application for many positions whether a potential applicant has a criminal record. A government employer, however, could ask about a record during an interview. But the employer would be expected to consider a number of factors -- including date of offense -- before making it a disqualifying factor.
  • RENT CONTROL. Extended for 10 years the District's rent-control laws that limit annual rent increases to about 2 percent plus inflation, or no more than 10 percent a year. The 35-year-old program was meant to protect tenants from rising costs. Increases for the elderly and disabled are limited to 5 percent a year; increases on vacant units may rise no more than 30 percent.

By Ann E. Marimow  | December 21, 2010; 5:11 PM ET
 
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