Throw these ideas onto the pile of legislation that D.C. lawmakers will consider in coming months: $100,000 in grants for every needy college student, kids’ athletic fields at RFK Stadium and new domestic violence protections.
D.C. Council members — those running for reelection and those who have declared or toyed with running for mayor — introduced nearly a dozen new proposed laws Tuesday.
The most costly and controversial could be a plan by council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) to offer what he billed as the most aggressive college tuition assistance program in the nation.
Under the measure, public school students whose parents earn up to twice the federal poverty level could be eligible for as much as $20,000 annually, and $100,000 maximum over five years of college.
The grant program, which Catania dubbed D.C. Promise, would work on a sliding scale, with those in homes earning up to $250,000 still being eligible for $3,000 to $5,000 a year.
Only longtime D.C. residents who graduate from the city’s public schools or public charter schools or have an equivalency degree would be eligible. But the grants could be used at colleges nationwide.
In introducing the bill, nine council members joined Catania, who is considered a possible independent candidate for mayor next year. The measure would require fiscal study and might cost the city $50 million or more annually.
Catania argued the benefits would outweigh costs.
“Our city has long been home to an astonishing disparity in income which contributes to mistrust and division within our city,” he said. “This policy will be far more aggressive than any other place in the nation, and this is by design . . . the best way to expand income equality is through education.”
Another idea, proposed by council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), put into bill form a plan floated for several years to turn some of the vast parking lots surrounding RFK Stadium into a children’s sports complex.
“We can make the area a destination for those who want to exercise, enjoy the waterfront, bike or hike,” he said. Wells, a candidate for mayor, said the fields could still be “passive grass parking” for stadium events. And the city could build an underground garage to expand stadium parking, if necessary.
The bill was co-introduced by council member David Grosso (I-At Large), and co-sponsored by council members Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) and Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3).
Council member Kenyan R. McDuffie (D), up for reelection in Ward 5, meanwhile, introduced a measure to expand workplace rights of victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse and stalking.
McDuffie’s bill would amend the city’s Human Rights Act to include “status as a victim or family member of a victim of domestic violence, sexual abuse or stalking” as a protected class.
The designation would preclude employers from firing, or refusing to hire, promote or otherwise discriminate against victims or family members of victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse or stalking.
Additionally, employers would have to grant such employees accommodations such as transfers, reassignments, modified schedules or leave in response to a threat.