In a move to streamline the operations of the new D.C. Taxicab Commission, D.C. Council member Nadine P. Winter (D-Ward 6) introduced a bill yesterday to force the commission's rate panel to act in a timely manner and to give final authority for setting rates to the full commission.
The bill would limit to 45 days the time the rate panel has to act on rule and rate proposals submitted by commission Chairman Arrington L. Dixon. If the panel fails to act in the time allowed, the full commission could then vote on the matter.
The panel, which earlier in the year expended months without taking action on a rate increase proposal, has had full authority to set rates and make rules. The rate and rule panel has four members, plus the commission chairman, and deals with matters including the setting of rates for taxi service and insuring driver and passenger safety.
The bill, which is cosponsored by council members John Ray (D-At large), Hilda H.M. Mason (Statehood-At large) and Jim Nathanson (D-Ward 3), also addresses the problem of backlogged complaints filed with the commission's adjudication panel.
The proposal would empower the commission chairman to assign members of the rate panel to help the adjudication panel. The adjudication panel, which has eight members, hears complaints brought by police and citizens against taxi drivers.
Dixon applauded Winter's bill yesterday but said it may not be needed because of action he had already taken.
"We already have the authority to deal with the problem," he said, referring to his controversial suspension of the rates panel last month. That action eventually forced the panel to give preliminary approval to a proposal to increase fares by 40 cents a ride.
"Mrs. Winter's bill will clarify the legislation for the commission's authority," he said. "She has indicated that she supports the direction I have been setting."