In another vote,
the council unanimously passed
emergency legislation that orders the Department of Motor Vehicles to apply reasonable discretion in out-of-state cases of reckless driving.
Under Virginia law, driving at more than 80 mph can be treated as reckless driving and, in some jurisdictions, is always treated as reckless driving.
The District’s DMV has been applying the city’s much stiffer penalty for reckless driving — automatic license revocation — to those offenses. The city has revoked the licenses of dozens of residents because of tickets issued in Virginia.
“I think the situation has been kind of embarrassing to the District, that the DMV was so inflexible, with a determination that defied common sense,” council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) said.
The classroom pet bill, also approved as emergency legislation, was intended to make clear that city schools can keep hamsters, fish, frogs, small reptiles and other small animals in their classrooms.
Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) said the city Health Department recently threatened to remove several animals from Miner Elementary School in Northeast Washington under animal-welfare laws. Members said school pets and science lab animals were inadvertently included in the animal rights code when the council amended it in 2008.
“Schools have always believed they could have tadpoles that turn into frogs in their classrooms,” Wells said.
Earlier in the session, members introduced more than a dozen bills for consideration, including a proposal by Evans to mandate that D.C. public schools place a librarian and arts and music teacher in each school.
Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) also proposed an expansion of her nationally recognized healthy-school-meals legislation to all city parks and recreation centers.
Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) moved to reverse a controversial Department of Corrections decision that requires jail inmates to talk with visitors through a video monitor. Barry and Evans teamed up to propose a commission to study the legalization of slots parlors, casinos or Internet gambling to help fund education.