District of Columbia Mayor Marion Barry, in his first major legislative initiative, proposed yesterday a 77-point package touching many aspects of D.C. life, ranging from increased welfare payments and voting rights for prisoners to mandatory auto liability insurance.
Barry set no priorities with the legislation and proposed few broad legislative outlines that would drastically change government policy. Instead, he proposed a host of consumer protection items asked more strict government regulation over various operations and requested authority to carry out numerous bureaucratic housekeeping chor
At the same time, the city's mayor of three weeks also submitted legislative plans to implement several of his campaign promises -- eliminating boarded up-houses, encouraging District of Columbia residency for all who work in the city and providing more jobs for the hard-core unemployed.
"As we enter our fifth year of home rule, the goals and aspirations of our residents have manifested a clear desire to have their government improve its management and address problems in a timely and effective way," said Barry, breaking with the style of his predecessor, Walter E. Washington, and presenting his proposals to the City Coucil in person.
"Accordingly," Barry said, "my legislative program includes a number of proposals that are designed to improve the ability of the departments and agencies to meet the daily need of our citizens for city services."
Among the proposals in the Barry package were measures that would encourage small loan companies to operate in the city, allow longer hours of operation for liquor stores, prohibit utility cut-offs for nonpayment of bills and establish a five-member board to manage the proposed $99 million downtown convention center.
Barry also asked the council for authority to require registration of longstanding vacant buildings and to rehabilitate those buildings at the owners' expense. He asked for money for subsidies to medical and dental students, a ban on high phosphate detergents, financial incentives for businesses that hire D.C. residents and a $300-a-year clothing allowance for some city fire inspectors.
Barry characterized the package as "a comprehensive, progressive legislative program." He did not include, however, estimated costs of most of the items.
Not all the proposals were Barry's. Fifteen of the 77 items were left over from the Washington administration. Another, a proposal to withdraw the congressionally granted tax exemptions on 42 special properties, was proposed by Council member David A. Clarke (D-Ward1) in 1975 and, in effect, stalled in the council's finance and revenue committee for three years while Barry was chairman.
That proposal angered Clarke yesterday, who quipped, "He held it up all through his chairmanship -- and now he proposes it."
The proposal to require automobile liability insurance would affect about 350,000 city motorists. Current city law requires only that drivers in most accidents prove they have insurance or the financial ability to pay any property damage or personal injuries. Those who cannot offer such proof stand to lose their driver's permits or their auto tage.
Only about half the city's motorists carry insurance, according to Richard Sommer of the D.C. Department of Transportation.
About 24 states, including Maryland, now require all drivers to carry liability insurance. A bill similar in principle to the Barry measure was introduced yesterday by Council member Betty Ann Kane (D-at large).
Among the bills sent to the Council by the mayor yesterday was a $3.8 million dollar proposal to provide subsidies to 190 dental and medical students as a way of increasing the number of health care professionals in the District of Columbia.
In exchange for financial assistance to help cover tuition, living expenses, equipment and textbooks, the students would agree to work in certain city health facilities or establish practices in areas of the city where there are not enough physicians and dentists.
To encourage employers to hire more city residents -- a central plank of his campaign platform -- Barry would provide a tax credit of from $20 to $50 a year for three years for "each economically disadvantaged person" hired. Barry also would provide incentives in the form of quarterly tax rebates that would reward firms that locate in the city and employ D.C. residents.
Barry also said he would introduce legislation that would use city funds and those from the federal Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) to create jobs for city youths. He also plans to propose legislation to provide day care services for parents enrolled in approved job training programs.
Barry proposed new or revised licensing and regulation procedures in several areas, including regulation of security alarm systems, drug abuse treatment facilities, sidewalk cafes, pharmacies, pharmacists, funeral directors, dentists and firms specializing in housing location.
As a means of cutting down on pollution by discouraging automobile use, Barry also proposed that public and private employers charge their employes commercial rates for long-term parking in areas where there is adequate public transportation.