Three congressional architects of the District of Columbia's Home Rule Charter told Congress yesterday that the D.C. City Council has abused its statutory power by repeatedly enacting emergency legistlation that was not reviewed by Congress, as usually required by law.
Similar testimony was voiced before a House District subcommittee by the city's former chief lawyer, John R. Risher Jr., who served from 1976 to 1978. He said the council failed to heed his advice that it was overusing it emergency legislative authority.
Thomas M. Rees, a Washington lawyer who as a California congressman was the chief sponsor of the Home Rule Charter that went into effect in 1975, cited the council's adoption and later extension of a condominium conversion moratorium as an abuse of its power.
The condo extension moratorium was the basis for a recent DC. Court of Appeals ruling strictly limiting the power of the council to pass emergency legislation more than once.
The other congressional architects of home rule who voiced misgivings about the council's use of emergency power were Jacques DuPuy and Harley J. Daniels, lawyers who were on the House District Committee staff at the time the charter was being drafted.
All the witnesses acknowledged that the city's legislative process is cumbersome and said Congress should either drop or liberalize the legal provision that requires regular D.C. legislation to undergo a congressional review that takes at least six weeks and usually longer.