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OFFICE OF THE

GENERAL COUNSEL
LEGALESE


September 1995 Council of the District of Columbia Vol. 1, No. 1

||Message from the General Counsel||General Counsel's Staff||What We Do||FYI - Election Information, D.C. Code Update Chart||
||Counting Days||FRMAA Legislation||New Effective Date Clauses||Editors||



Message from the General Counsel
Charlotte Brookins-Hudson

The staff of the General Counsel's Office has been very busy since the beginning of Council Period XI on January 2, 1995. The transition from the former General Counsel to myself has been a smooth one. The office has had several personnel changes. For 4 years I had been the Deputy General Counsel/Legislative Counsel. After becoming the General Counsel I chose John McNeal, who for 4 years had been the Codification Counsel, to be the Deputy General Counsel and Legislative Counsel. In addition, I hired Benjamin F. Bryant as our Codification Counsel.

This first issue of the Office of the General Counsel Legalese features information about our staff, our areas of responsibilities, the changes necessitated by the District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Act of 1995 ("FRMAA"), and information on recurring issues. I hope you find this first issue informative and welcome any suggestions you may have for future issues.

THE STAFF OF OGC

Legislative Counsel

The Legislative Counsel, John McNeal, reviews all bills and resolutions considered by the Council for technical legislative drafting sufficiency including the technical amendments to pending legislative matters contained in the Legislative Session folders. The Legislative Counsel also approves all legislative measures as to form and style during the engrossment and enrollment of legislation and certifies the validity and accuracy of legislation passed by the Council prior to their public release or transmittal to the Mayor of the District of Columbia. In addition, our Legislative Counsel provides training sessions on legislative drafting for staff of the Council and on legislative research for the staff of the D.C. Auditor, as well as serving as legal counsel and legislative advisor to the Committees on Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and Government Operations. Currently, the Legislative Counsel is in the process of drafting the Second Technical Amendments Act of 1995 for introduction by the Chairman. The purpose of this bill is to correct technical errors in enacted legislation and publication errors in the District of Columbia Code.

Codification Counsel

Benjamin F. Bryant, our Codification Counsel, supervises the publication and distribution of the District of Columbia Code. In addition to ensuring that legislation passed by the Council is properly codified in the D.C. Code, Ben has computerized the General Counsel's bill tracking system, the General Counsel's Opinions from 1970 to the present, and installed the D.C. Code Update Chart on the Council's "V" drive. Committee and legislative staff now have access to up-to-date information on all changes to the D.C. Code since the last supplemental publication. Committee and legislative staff are encouraged to review the D.C. Code Update Chart whenever making changes to current legislation. Ben also serves as legal counsel and legislative advisor to the Committees on Human Services, Public Works and the Environment, and Housing and Urban Affairs.

Assistant General Counsel

Sheila Barfield has been with the office since October 18, 1993. During her 2 year tenure her responsibilities have included following the work of at least 3 Council Committees. Her assignments include the Council Committees on the Judiciary, Economic Development, and Public Services and Regional Authorities. As a part of her responsibilities she attends hearings and roundtables, drafts legislation, identifies legislative problems, provides Council staff with alternatives in terms of policy options to solve these problems, researches legal issues raised by pending legislation and prepares legal opinions on pending legislation or Council procedural rules, reviews bills and resolutions assigned to her committees prior to markup and engrossment and enrollment for technical legislative drafting sufficiency, and follows Congressional hearings and legislation involving issues under the jurisdiction of her assigned committees. Stephen Taylor's tenure with the office has been from May 24, 1993, through March 1994, and continuously since October 10, 1994. During his tenure his responsibilities have included following the work of at least 3 Council Committees. His assignments currently include the Council Committees of the Whole, Labor and Human Rights, and Education and Libraries. His responsibilities include working with the Executive to resolve tax and budget issues raised by Council legislation, attending hearings, roundtables, and budget meetings, drafting legislation, identifying legislative problems, researching legal issues raised by pending legislation and preparing legal opinions on pending legislation or Council procedural rules, reviewing bills and resolutions assigned to his committees prior to markup and engrossment and enrollment for technical legislative drafting sufficiency, following Congressional hearings and legislation involving issues under the jurisdiction of his assigned committees, monitoring litigation outside the office that pertains to Council enactments, keeping abreast of the status of Mayoral appointments and the Office's litigation; including briefing death penalty issues for appeal and drafting pleadings in the Georgetown Cogeneration proceedings.

Codification/Legislative Assistant

As Codification/Legislative Assistant, Karen Westbrook prepares the enrollments and engrossments of legislation and enters legislation passed by the Council into the Rawcode (D.C. Code on computer system). Working with the Codification Counsel, she enters the amended cites to acts, laws, and effective dates into the OGC legislative database. In utilizing our new computer system, she provides assistance on computer operation, and develops macros for legislation, Council and General Counsel memos, technical amendment sheets, effective date clauses, and other standard forms.

Secretary & Staff Assistant

The OGC support staff includes Secretary Debra Brown and part-time clerical Tamiko Palmer. As part of our permanent recordkeeping system, Debra and Tamiko maintain our files, enter new legislation into the office tracking system, purge our legislative files from previous Council periods, obtain copies of all laws, committee reports, and D.C. Registers, and prepare these documents for binding. Prior to and after a legislative session, they type the record and technical amendment sheets for legislation, create transmittal sheets, and track the status of the engrossment and enrollment of legislation after a legislative session. They are also responsible for organizing and maintaining our law library.

WHAT WE DO

Litigation

This year the General Counsel's Office has represented the Council and individual Councilmembers in administrative and court cases and assisted the Office of the Corporation Counsel in its representation of the District in litigation involving the validity of Council enactments and the actions of Councilmembers. The litigation this year has involved personnel action issues, the court injunction involving the Ward 8 election, discovery matters in the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation of the District, the Council's legislation regarding the Georgetown Cogeneration facility, the court challenges to the Council's enactment of wage rollback legislation, appeal of the death penalty initiative, and Tri-County Industries challenge to the District's decision to rescind its permit to operate a soil reprocessing facility in Ward 5.

Legal Opinions

Since January 1995, this office has issued several legal opinions on pending legislation, Council procedural rules, and other matters. Several of the legal opinions issued this year involved interpretations of the new Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Act of 1995 ("FRMAA"). As a result, in June 1995, the Office issued and distributed to Council offices a 20-page comparison of the Council's authority under the Home Rule Act and FRMAA. The Office was also involved in issues regarding the closing of Pennsylvania Avenue.

FYI

Election Information

As you can see this Office has had a very busy start to Council Period XI. The remainder of Council Period XI is likely to continue at this same pace. Next year is an election year. Elections will be held for several Council positions. Usually during an election year this Office receives a number of requests for opinions as to whether documents can be mailed using the official mail. Council Rules 801 through 811 address the issue of official mail. Rule 805(a) prohibits any mass mailing by a Councilmember within the 90-day period prior to a primary, special, or general election in which the Councilmember is a candidate for office. This means that for the primary election to be held on September 10, 1996, the last day to do mass mailing by official mail will be June 11, 1996, and for the General Election to be held on Tuesday, November 5, 1996, the last day to do mass mailing by official mail will be August 6, 1996.

D.C. Code Update Chart

The D.C. Code Update Chart is now available on the V:\ drive of the Council's computer network. The Update Chart is a document prepared by the Office of the General Counsel which shows the changes to District laws (including changes initiated by Congress--see Attachment A of the Update Chart) since the last supplemental publication of the D.C. Code.

The Update Chart contains information reflecting the D.C. Code sections that have been amended, the names of the acts that amended the sections, when the acts or laws (if emergency or temporary legislation) will expire, and the District of Columbia Register citation where the acts are published.

Prior to drafting legislation, the Update Chart should be reviewed to determine if the section of the code to be amended has recently been changed.

To access the Update Chart, simply bring up the V:\ drive directory from your Word Perfect "Open File" screen. Double click the "dccode" subdirectory. Then double click on the file "update.cht." In the message box click on the "Yes" button. Now you can read the Update Chart or print it. The Update Chart will be revised every two weeks so that you may have access to the most recent D.C. Code update information. The Update Chart is also published quarterly in the District of Columbia Register. The most recent publication can be found at 42 DCR 3861.

Counting Days

*Note: this article has been updated see the June 1998 article on counting days.

Council Rule 402(b) provides that "unless specifically provided otherwise by law, no matter transmitted for a period of Council review prior to its taking effect shall be deemed transmitted to the Council or the Chairman, and no time period for the Council review shall begin until the matter has been formally introduced by the Chairman at a legislative session or work session of the Committee of the Whole."

Consequently, the first day counted for most purposes will be the day after the matter has been formally introduced at a COW or legislative session.

Some exceptions are: reprogramming requests and reorganization plans (count begins the day after the Chairman receives the request or plan).

Reprogrammings (47-363)

After October 1, 1995, Sec. 203(c) of FRMAA requires Mayor to submit request to Authority for 15 days

  • No Council action can occur until it receives Authority's analysis of request

  • Mayor transmits request to the Chairman

  • Chairman is to immediately circulate request to the members

  • First day is the day after the Chairman receipt of request

  • Deemed approved on 15th calendar day if no notice of disapproval within 14 days

  • If notice of disapproval filed within 14 days, after 30 days it will be deemed approved

  • Days of Council recess are not counted

  • Count Saturdays, Sundays and holidays

    Reorganization Plans (1-299.4)

    Executive Service Confirmations (1-633.7)

    Contracts in excess of $1 million (1-1130)

    FRMAA Legislation

    This Office also played a major role in assisting the Council in submitting comments on the draft versions of the District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Act of 1995 ("FRMAA"). Initially the General Counsel's Office prepared the Council's recommendations to the Congress regarding the issues to be addressed by the control board legislation. Subsequently the Office reviewed several drafts of the federal legislation and recommended to the Council changes that should be included in the legislation. Finally, in June of 1995, the Office issued and distributed to Council offices a 20-page comparison of the Council's authority under the Home Rule Act and FRMAA to assist Councilmembers and their staffs in their understanding of the changes imposed by FRMAA and their effect on the operations of the Council.

    Some major changes to District law imposed by FRMAA which go into effect during a control year, the first of which commences on October 1, 1995, are as follows:

    New Effective Date Clauses

    As of October 1, 1995, all permanent and temporary legislation should contain new effective date clauses as follows:

    Sec. ___. This act shall take effect following approval by the Mayor (or in the event of veto by the Mayor, action by the Council to override the veto), approval by the Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority as provided in section 203(a) of the District of Columbia FinancialResponsibility and Management Assistance Authority Act of 1995, approved April 17, 1995 (109 Stat. 116; D.C. Code 47-392.3(c)), and a 30-day period of Congressional review as provided in section 602(c)(1) of the District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act, approved December 24, 1973 (87 Stat. 813; D.C. Code 1-233(c)(1)), and publication in the District of Columbia Register. (Permanent act)

    Sec. ___. (a) This act shall take effect following approval by the Mayor (or in the event of veto by the Mayor, action by the Council to override the veto), approval by the Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority as provided in section 203(a) of the District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority Act of 1995, approved April 17, 1995 (109 Stat. 116; D.C. Code 47-392.3(c)), and a 30-day period of Congressional review as provided in section 602(c)(1) of the District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act, approved December 24, 1973 (87 Stat. 813; D.C. Code 1-233(c)(1)), and publication in the District of Columbia Register.

    (b) This act shall expire after the 225th day of its having taken effect or on the effective date of the (name of permanent bill), whichever occurs first. (Temporary act)

    Editors:
    Sheila Barfield and John McNeal

    Contributors:
    Charlotte Brookins-Hudson, Benjamin Bryant, and Stephen Taylor

    Editorial Assistant:
    Karen Westbrook