Small Biz and Education, Banning Panic Defense, Designating John Lewis Way, and More!

Posted by
Emmanuel Brantley
October 1, 2020

Dear Neighbor,

This is a very busy time for us at the Council. I have participated in five hearings this week, and my colleagues and I are working hard to move many important bills through before the end of the year. Among the hearing topics covered this week are the reestablishment of the District’s Tax Revision Commission, the District's unemployment insurance program, and distance learning in public schools.

I joined my colleagues in co-introducing two bills that would improve educational outcomes for students and ensure that the District has more equitable business procurement practices. We are very committed to doing all we can to support our small businesses and ensure they are not taken advantage of in the contracting process. I also introduced the John Lewis Way Designation Act of 2020 to ceremonially name H Street NW between 15th Street N.W. and 17th Street N.W. in honor of the late civil rights icon.

In addition to these milestones, I addressed a legal injustice that has plagued so many of our families, neighbors, and broader community members – the use of a “panic defense” in a court of law. In my opinion editorial published this week by the Washington Blade, I spoke about the need to pass legislation that bans this unjust legal maneuver. By doing so we will protect our LGBTQIA+ community and make it unlawful for anyone to attack someone and then get away with it by claiming the attack was based on a fear of the victim’s sexual identity or orientation.

For more information on the legislative updates, to learn more about my Op Ed in the Washington Blade and other concurrent efforts, or to see what else we have been up to, please continue reading this newsletter.

As always, please remember that our office is here to help and assist you. Please do not hesitate to contact us if there is anything that you need.

Yours in Service,


In the Press

“D.C. Must Ban Gay and Trans Panic Defense” – Washington Blade Opinion Editorial: In an Op Ed published this week by the Washington Blade, Councilmember Brooke Pinto addressed the need to ban the panic defense legal strategy in a court of law and announced that the Committee of the Judiciary and Public Safety would be moving legislation to achieve this before the end of the year. “The panic defense must be banned and removed from the legal toolkit for bigots, harassers, and abusers. It is the right thing to do for the victims, past and present, their families, and our broader community. Moreover, it will send a clear message to all that this type of hate will not be tolerated by our society and will not be accepted by a court of law,” wrote Councilmember Pinto.

For many years, the panic defense legal strategy has unfairly protected those who attack members of the LGBTQIA+ community due to a claimed fear of the victim’s sexual identity or orientation. To honor the memories of Bella Evangelista, Tony Hunter, and many others who have died or have been affected by malicious acts of trans and homophobic violence, Councilmember Pinto will work closely with her Council colleagues to ensure that this legislation is passed and will support efforts “that provide opportunities for community engagement, anti-bias training and education, and other efforts that will help us to change the culture that perpetuates feelings of trans and homophobia.” To read the full opinion editorial, click here.

In The Community

Meeting with the Logan Circle Civic Association: This week, Councilmember Pinto met with the Logan Circle Civic Association to discuss her first 100 days in office, share about her legislative priorities for this year, and address neighborhood concerns about public works, public safety, and relief for the District’s art community.

Ride-a-Long with MPD Commander Emerman: Councilmember Pinto also accompanied Third District Commander Stuart Emerman of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department on a ride-along to review MPD’s efforts to serve our communities on the morning of Thursday, October 1, at 5:00 a.m. “This morning, I went on a ride-along with Commander Stuart Emerman of the Third District. We discussed ways in which we can keep our community safe, address crime, and work together across agencies to holistically solve the challenges in our community,” said Councilmember Pinto.

Coming Up: Later this week, Councilmember Pinto will be touring Jelleff Recereation Center to learn more about the facility and the need for modernization and distributing food to Ward 2 seniors.

Legislative Update

Honoring the Late Civil Rights Icon and Longtime Congressman, Rep. John Lewis: On July 17th, the nation lost a hero with the passing of Congressman John Lewis. His memory and spirit will continue to inspire bold leadership that is unafraid to call out injustice and rectify the sins of our past. To formally memorialize Rep. Lewis’s legacy, Councilmember Pinto introduced legislation to ceremonially name H Street N.W. between 15th Street N.W. and 17th Street N.W. in the John Lewis Way Designation Act of 2020. May we continue to be inspired by thoughtfulness & consistent attitude to show up, stand up, & speak up.

Improving the District’s Contract Procurement Process for Locally Owned Businesses and Certified Business Enterprises: This week, Councilmember Pinto joined At-Large Councilmember Robert White, Chairman of the Committee on Facilities and Procurement, and Ward 5 Councilmember McDuffie, Chairman of the Committee on Business and Economic Development, for a public hearing on Bill 23-05452, the “Small Business Procurement Reform Omnibus Amendment Act of 2019.” This legislation would provide protections for subcontractors and strengthen the Certified Business Enterprise program for our District businesses. To watch the recording of the hearing, click here.

Councilmember Pinto also co-introduced two new bills just last week: With Councilmember McDuffie, Chairman of the Committee on Business and Economic Development, Councilmember Pinto co-introduced B23-0918, the Local Business Enterprise Clarification Amendment Act of 2020. The bill will reform the law to ensure that business enterprises designated as “small business enterprises” are independently owned, operated, or controlled either by a District-based enterprise or by a non-District based business enterprise that is more than 50% owned by District residents. This effort will preserve the integrity of programs and initiatives that have been developed to foster the growth of the small and local business community and will prevent these entities from being exploited by bad actors.

Councilmember Pinto also joined Councilmembers Grosso, Robert White, and Allen in co-introducing B23-0921, the Education and Credit Continuity Amendment Act of 2020. This legislation will make it easier for District residents under 25 years of age who are incarcerated or otherwise under the supervision of a District or federal agency to have smooth transitions between educational institutions within the District through educational continuity and credit accrual and transfers.

Running the Legislative Marathon: This week, Councilmember Pinto attended five public hearings to discuss a wide range of topics including the reestablishment of a Tax Revision Commission4 by the Committee of the Whole, preserving green space and ensuring safe public facilities by the Committee on Facilities & Procurement, the District’s unemployment insurance program with the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, and removing racial and gender considerations from calculating damages with the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety. To see the Council’s hearing schedule for the month of October, please visit Be sure to check regularly and stay in touch with our office for updates!


The DC Health Exchange Has Made It Easier for Small Businesses and Non-Profits to Provide Health Insurance: District employers can offer group insurance coverage even if they can’t afford to pay 50% of their employees’ premium or have fewer than two-thirds of eligible employees enrolling. The DC Health Exchange has made it easier for small businesses and non-profits to provide health insurance for workers by waiving minimum contribution and participation requirements for 2021 and 2022. Requirement for 2020 were waived earlier this year. For more information, visit

The November 3rd General Election Update

The general election is less than 40 days away. To ensure that you do not have any issues casting your ballot, please review the information below.

The D.C. Board of Elections (BOE) has mailed paper ballots to all registered voters in the District of Columbia. Paper ballots can be completed and returned via postal mail or any of the secure BOE ballot drop boxes located throughout the city. Ballot boxes in Ward 2 are located at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, at the Georgetown Library, at the West End library, and at the Stead Recreation Center. A ballot box will also be available at the Foggy Bottom/GWU Metro starting Thursday, October 8th. Click here to find drop box locations in other Wards.

To ensure that you receive your ballot and are able to participate in the election, please click HERE to make certain that your address is up to date.

Residents can vote in person at ANY one of the 80+ voting centers on November 3rd, just as they did in the primary election. For a complete listing of election day vote centers, click HERE.

EARLY VOTING begins Tuesday, October 27th and ends Monday, November 2nd. In Ward 2, you can vote early at Hardy Middle School in the 1800 block of 35th Street N.W. or at Capitol One Sports Arena at 601 F Street, N.W. For other early voting locations, click HERE.

ELECTION DAY WORKERS ARE URGENTLY NEEDED and will be compensated (training will be provided!). All polling locations will adhere to strict social distancing guidelines, will require that everyone wear masks, and will restrict the number of persons indoors at the polling stations. If you are interested in becoming an Election Day Worker, please complete an online application HERE.

For more information, call the BOE Call Center at 202-741-5283 or email  

Fall Leaf Collection: Fall leaf collection will begin on November 9th. The Department of Public Works (DPW) will distribute 20 bags to each household beginning October 30th and allow for an unlimited number of bags for pick up.

Two-Way Protected Bicycle Lanes Coming to Ward 2: The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is moving forward with the installation of two-way protected bicycle lanes on the west side of 20th Street NW between Massachusetts Avenue N.W. and G Street N.W. and also on 21st Street N.W. between G Street N.W. and Constitution Avenue N.W. For more information about the project timeline or parking and transit updates, please view DDOT’s two-page project update flyer and Notice of Intent Update Letter here.

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