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Bills passed by D.C. Council at final 2010 meeting

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010; 7:21 PM

A flurry of legislation

In its last meeting of the year, the D.C. Council approved bills covering a range of issues. Council legislation goes to Mayor Adrian M. Fenty for his signature and is subject to review by Congress.

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HOMELESS SHELTER ID. Homeless families would be required to provide proof of District residency to receive shelter. The bill responds to a growing demand for shelter at a time of limited fiscal 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 hotel tax payments to the District on the retail price of rooms. Council members say online travel vendors currently base payments on the lower, wholesale price. The change is expected to generate $10 million a year, but online travel vendors could take the issue to court.

OPEN GOVERNMENT. More government boards would be required to hold their meetings in public view, strengthening the city's Open Meetings Act. But the bill includes a provision that would allow the council to opt out of the requirement once it adopts its own standards. The council also exempted its committees from the regulations.

DON'T ASK. D.C. government agencies would be prohibited from inquiring on job applications for many positions whether an applicant has a criminal record. A government official could ask about a criminal record during an interview, but the agency would be expected to consider a number of factors - including date of offense - before making it a disqualifying factor.

RENT CONTROL. The District would extend for 10 years rent-control laws that limit annual increases to about 2 percent, plus inflation, and no more than 10 percent a year in most cases. Increases for the elderly and disabled are limited to 5 percent a year. Rents on vacant units are allowed to rise no more than 30 percent.


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