Making Democracy Work

BUDGET AUTONOMY CHARTER AMENDMENT 8

The League Takes Action!

LEAGUE JOINS D.C. APPLESEED, D.C. VOTE AND OTHERS IN SUPPORTING REVERSAL OF LOWER COURT JUDGE'S RULING

BACKGROUND INFORMATION
On April 23, 2013, voters of the District of Columbia overwhelming voted "YES" on Charter Amendment 8, Local Budget Autonomy. The intent of the Amendment is to permit the Council to adopt the annual local budget, spend local funds, and permit the Council to establish DC's fiscal year.

The Amendment passed the required Congressional Review Period without action by Congress.

On the advice of the Attorney General, the Mayor and Chief Financial Officer have refused to implement the Act because they believe it violates U.S. law.

A Federal Judge ruled on Monday, May 19, 2014, that the Budget Autonomy Act does violate Federal Law , and, therefore, upheld the Mayor and CFO's actions refusing to implement the Act.

The Council appealed the Judge's ruling. On July 8, 2014, D.C. Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, The League of Women Voters of the D.C., D.C. Vote, D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute and pro bono partners Arent Fox LLP and Lathan & Watkins LLP, filed a brief as Amici Curiae in support of the appellant and reversal. Read the BRIEF

On October 17, 2014, oral arguments were made before a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit (No. 14-7067). The appeal concerned the decision earlier this year by the US District Court for the District of Columbia determining that the Mayor did not have authority to implement enabling legislation of 2012 pursuant to a prior referendum, even though that legislation had satisfied all requirements for Congressional review.

The two court cases makes very interesting reading, especially in terms of related history and key sections. For those who wish to peruse the Home Rule Act (P.L. 93-198; 87 Stat.774) key parts are as follows: Title III, sections 302 and 303 on legislative power and charter amending procedure, Title IV, D, sections 446, enactment of appropriations by Congress, and Title VI, reservation of Congressional authority.

Before addressing the merits of the case, the panel began with questions about the standing of the parties before the Court, the Court' jurisdiction, and basis for determining injury. The issues are complex. The Court's decision may be announced in one or two months.

Read more on D.C. Appleseed's website

Read more on the DCVote.org website.

IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS RELATING TO BUDGET AUTONOMY

Text of Charter Amendment 8: Local Budget Autonomy

DC Board of Elections Memorandum Opinion and Order January 9, 2013 on the "Local Budget Autonomy Emergency Amendment Act of 2012"

Includes:

  • Legislative history
  • Summary of Attorney General Irvin Nathan's concerns
  • Council Chairman Mendelson's reason's for supporting the issue
  • Short Title and Text of the Summary Statement


U.S. Government Accountability Office Opinion

Attorney General's press release: Federal Judge Rules against Amendment 8

Brief filed by D.C. Appleseed, League of Women Voters of D.C., et al.

Read more on D.C. Appleseed's website

Read more on the DCVote.org website.