Legislative Summary: District of Columbia


District of Columbia Hospital Extension 
H.R. 4913 — Public Law 87-79, approved June 30, 1961  
This measure extends the Federal grant authority of the District of Columbia Hospital Center Act for 1 year, from June 30, 1961, to June 30, 1962.

This act has the dual purpose of providing the District and other interested Federal agencies with the additional time to formulate a coordinated program of Federal assistance to George Washington University Hospital and other hospitals in the metropolitan area, and also preserves the present program of expanding private hospitals in the District through Federal grants provided under the provisions of the Hospital Center Act.

H.R. 8444 — Public Law 87-389, approved October 4, 1961 
To implement the 23d amendment to the Constitution providing that District residents may vote in the presidential elections, this measure will

Retain 21 as the minimum age for qualified voters in the District.

Abolish permanent registration and require all qualified voters to register in the year in which the presidential election is held. 

Liberalize requirements relating to absentee registering and voting, but permit only the physically incapacitated to register by absentee.

Establish procedures for presidential elections to be selected in two ways:

(1) By certification of the executive committee recognized by the national committee of a major political party; that is, a party which has had its candidates for electors of President and Vice President on the ballot in each of five States in the last election.

(2) Any other party may have its candidates for electors submitted to the Board of Elections by presenting a petition to the Board signed by at least 5 percent of the registered qualified voters as of July 1 immediately preceding the election.

Require an elector to take an oath or solemnly affirm that he or she will vote for the candidate of the party he has been nominated to represent; and that it shall be his duty to vote this way in the electoral college.

Provide that only the names of the candidates of each political party for President and Vice President shall be placed on the ballot.

Make provision for a substitute appointment by the party committee in case the candidate for elector dies, resigns, or becomes unable to serve.

Require a 1-year residency in the District before one has the privilege of voting.

Require that nominees for presidential electors must qualify as voters and must have been residents of the District for 3 years.

Forbid the sale of alcoholic beverages on the day of the presidential election and during the hours when the polls are open, except sales by pharmacists on physicians' prescriptions.

Fire Department Workweek 
S. 1292 — Public Law 87-399, approved October 5, 1961 
Reduces the present 60-hour workweek of officers and members of the Firefighting Division of the Fire Department of the District of Columbia to a 56-hour average workweek.

Gambling in the District of Columbia 
H.R. 4669 — Public Law 87-259, approved September 21, 1961 
Strengthens the law relating to gambling in the District by authorizing forfeiture to the District of property seized in connection with a gambling violation.

The procedure prescribed for forfeiting property is a libel action brought in the municipal court by the Corporation Counsel. Unless good cause is shown to the contrary, the property is forfeited to the District and may be made available for the use of any agency of the District government or may be disposed of as the Commissioners may, by order or regulation, provide. Where there are bona fide liens against forfeited property, the property may be sold at public auction; however, before the bona fide lienholder is satisfied, the District's costs for the public auction must first be paid.

Police Force — Strength 
H.R. 7218 — Public Law 87-60, approved June 27, 1961 
This bill raises the authorized minimum limit of the Metropolitan Police Force of the District of Columbia from 2,500 to 3,000 (at present the force has 2,714 members, 214 above the minimum level) to provide more adequate protection for citizens of the District.


Capital Punishment—Abolish 
H.R. 5143 Public Law 87-423, approved March 22, 1962 
This act— 

Abolished the mandatory death sentence for first degree murder in the District of Columbia, the only jurisdiction (State or Federal) which retains that penalty as mandatory in first degree murder convictions.

Provided that life imprisonment may be the penalty for first degree murder if recommended by a unanimous jury vote, or by the court, should the jury be unable to decide between the death penalty and life imprisonment for a convicted first degree murderer.

Provided that a defendant convicted of first degree murder, if sentenced to life imprisonment, will be eligible for parole in 20 years, to distinguish the first degree murder penalty from that for second degree murder under which parole is possible before 20 years.

District of Columbia Courts 
H.R. 12708 — Public Law 87-873, approved October 23, 1962 
Increased jurisdiction of the municipal court of District of Columbia in civil cases from $3,000 to $10,000; increased its subpoena powers to an area up to 25 miles outside the boundaries of the District.

Allowed the District Court of the District of Columbia to certify actions to the municipal court which do not justify a judgment in excess of $10,000.

Changed names of municipal court to District of Columbia court of general sessions, and the municipal court of appeals for District of Columbia to District of Columbia court of appeals.

Fire Department Workweek 
S. 3086 — Public Law 87-697, approved September 25, 1962 
Reduced the present 56-hour workweek of officers and members of the Firefighting Division of the Fire Division of the Fire Department of the District of Columbia to a 48-hour average workweek.

George Washington Hospital Facilities 
H.R. 8916 — Public Law 87-460, approved May 31, 1962 
Authorized $2,500,000 to enable the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service to make grants to George Washington University equal to 50 percent of the cost of planning and carrying out a project of construction to expand and improve the facilities of George Washington University Hospital in the District of Columbia.

Vested authority in the Surgeon General to approve any project plans. The expansion will include both teaching and patient facilities.

Juvenile Court Judges — Two Additional 
H.R. 6747 — Public Law 87-413, approved March 9, 1962 
This measure provided for the appointment of two additional juvenile court judges for the District of Columbia, making a total of three. The two new judges to be appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The judges appointed as a result of this measure to serve for a 10-year term, or until his successor is appointed and qualified. To qualify, one must

Be a member of the District of Columbia bar for a period of 5 years preceding his appointment.

During a period of 10 years immediately preceding appointment have been a resident of the District of Columbia or of the metropolitan area of the District for at least 5 years of which not less than 3 years must immediately precede appointment. "Metropolitan area" means Montgomery and Prince George's Counties in Maryland, and Arlington and Fairfax Counties and the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church in Virginia.

Have a broad knowledge of social problems and procedures and an understanding of child psychology.

This act provides the present judge of the court shall continue in office and be considered as occupying one of the three positions of judge provided in this legislation.

The chief judge, to be designated by the President, will receive $18,000 a year, and the associate judges will receive $17,500 a year.

Policemen and Firemen —  Retirement and Disability Act 
H.R. 6836 — Public Law 87-857, approved October 23, 1962 
Amends existing law to create an additional category of service-connected disability which will enable policemen and firemen to retire if an injury or disease contracted other than exclusively in the performance of duty is aggravated by the performance of duty so as to disable the member from further duty.

A member retiring under this bill will receive the same annuity as if there were no doubt of the disability having resulted exclusively in the performance of duty.

Policemen and Firemen — Salary Increase 
S. 3705 — Public Law 87-882, approved October 24, 1962 
Provided an average salary increase for District of Columbia police and firemen of 11.6 percent. In addition to the salary increase the bill provides for recognition of assigned responsibilities of certain officers and members of the several police forces and Fire Department of the District of Columbia.

It provides a one-step advancement for privates with long years of service to more nearly equalize such service with the time required for newly appointed privates to reach the top.

Eliminates the rank of corporal and permits better pay alignment among members.

Tax Increase 
H.R. 258 — Public Law 87-408, approved March 2, 1962 
Provides for means of collecting needed revenue for supplementing the District of Columbia budget. There is a $21.3 million deficit in the District of Columbia proposed budget, due to the cut in the Federal contribution to pay the expenses of the District of Columbia government and also due to the mandatory increases in District of Columbia government employees.

The increases in taxes include an increase to 3 percent from 2 percent on sales tax with no change on present 1-percent tax on groceries and imposes a new tax on each deed at the time it is submitted at one-half of 1 percent of the consideration of the deed, with certain specified exemptions. Increases from 3 to 4 percent tax on transient lodging.

Provides for the establishment of a parking fee account within the highway fund of the District of Columbia. The account would receive the revenue of all parking meters and other revenue acquired under the operations of the Motor Parking Facility Act and all the revenue now in the motor vehicle parking fund. The money will be used to maintain roads and highways and pay for the removal of snow and ice from the streets.

Provides for standby authority for the District of Columbia government to raise water rates and sanitary sewer service charges by as much as 25 percent to meet continuing construction and operating costs.

Permits the District of Columbia to be considered as an impacted area in order to receive Federal payments for school construction purposes.

Increases the tax on alcohol and spirits from $1.25 to $1.50 per gallon.

Teachers' Salary Increase 
S. 1447 — Public Law 87-881, approved October 24, 1962 
Provided an overall salary increase of approximately 10 percent for teachers in the District schools and a 5-percent increase in annuities.

Specifically the bill provides

An increase in the salary schedules for teachers and school officers:

A reduction from 18 to 15 in the number of classes in the pay schedule for teachers and school officers;

Authorization for the Board of Education to discontinue the annual increments of employees whose performance is less than satisfactory;

Placement of principals of elementary and secondary schools in the same class of the salary schedule; and

A revision upward of the salary schedule for summer and evening school employees;

A 5-percent increase effective January 1, 1963, in all annuities then payable from the fund which commenced on or before that date;

That the initial increase be extended on a graduated percentage basis to all annuities which commence in the 5-year period following January 1, 1963, in accord with the following schedule:  

If the annuity commences between                     The annuity shall be increased by:
Jan. 2, 1963 and  Dec. 31, 1963...............................................................4 percent.
Jan. 1, 1964, and Dec. 31, 1964...............................................................3 percent.
Jan. 1, 1965 and  Dec. 31, 1965...............................................................2 percent.
Jan. 1, 1966 and  Dec. 31, 1966...............................................................1 percent.

Washington Hospital Center    Increased Appropriation 
S. 1834 — Public Law 87-511, approved July 1, 1962 
Increased the authorization for the Washington Hospital Center from $3 million to $3,375,000 to provide one-half the additional funds needed to complete the Greater Southeast Community Hospital in Washington, D.C. It also extends the expiration date from June 30, 1962, to the end of this session.

Thirty percent of the Federal contribution is to be reimbursed by the District of Columbia.


H.R. 4330 — Public Law 88-111, approved September 3, 1963 
Amends the District of Columbia Business Corporation Act to

Prevent any District of Columbia corporation from pleading usury statutes.

Establish procedures whereby such corporations or a foreign corporation may change the address of the registered office.

Permit foreign corporations to conduct certain activities within the District without being considered as transacting business.

Commercial Redevelopment 
S. 628 — Passed Senate July 16; pending in House District of Columbia Committee 
Amends the District of Columbia Redevelopment Act to provide clear legislative authority for the use of the urban renewal process in redevelopment of commercial areas within the District of Columbia, as well as residential areas, to which it is presently restricted.

This bill brings the law of the District of Columbia in line with that of other major cities in the country by permitting it to conduct redevelopment activities in commercial as well as residential areas.

Communicable Diseases — Minors 
H.R. 2485 — Public Law 88-137, approved October 11, 1963 
Authorizes the Department of Public Health of the District of Columbia to treat minors for venereal disease on their own consent, when they present themselves voluntarily to the Department's health centers, rather than having to obtain such permission from their parents or guardians (as under existing law).

Requires the Director of Public Health to exercise reasonable diligence in ascertaining the whereabouts of a parent, and notifying him of the minor's condition.

Condominium Owners 
H.R. 4276 — Public Law 88-218, approved December 21, 1963 
Establishes within the District of Columbia a new estate in property known as "condominium," which is the ownership of single units in a multiunit structure with common elements.

This fee simple ownership of a unit in a multiunit structure may be designed either for a residence, office, the operation of any industry or business, or other type of use, with its accessory units and will be known as horizontal property regime or condominium projects. In addition to the fee simple ownership, the owner would also have an undivided interest in the public portions of the building, which includes the corridors, stairways, basements, roofs, heating, and air-conditioning plants, and all other elements of common use.

Under the bill, persons will be able not only to purchase and convey, but to lease and encumber units in a building in the same manner as other real property, and purchasers will be entitled to deed conveying said units to them along with an undivided share in the common elements of the structure.

Correctional Industries 
S. 1082 — Passed Senate June 26; pending in House District of Columbia Committee 
Creates a correctional industries revolving fund for the District of Columbia government with a net limitation of $2,500,000 to be used for performance and production of services which will contribute to the rehabilitation of the inmates of institutions in the Department of Corrections of the District of Columbia.

Fiscal Affairs 
H.R. 6177 — Public Law 88-104, approved August 27, 1963 
Authorizes a permanent annual Federal payment to the District of Columbia of $50 million to help pay the expenses of running the District. The measure also increased the borrowing authority from a flat $75 million to $175 million.

Insurance Laws 
H.R. 1937 — Public Law 88-57, approved July 8, 1963 
Purpose of this bill is to make the District of Columbia perjury statute applicable to those persons who make false statements under oath when applying for licenses or renewal of licenses as insurance agents and brokers in the District of Columbia.

Junior College 
S. 1406 — Passed Senate November 26; pending in House District of Columbia Committee 
Authorizes the Board of Education of the District of Columbia to establish a junior college division of the District of Columbia Teachers College with a 2-year program of general pre-professional and terminal education by leading to the degrees of associate in arts.

Learner's Permit 
S. 1964 — Passed Senate November 26; pending in House District of Columbia Committee 
Provides authority to increase from $2 to $5 the fee charged for a District of Columbia learner's permit, to enable an expansion of the driver education program.

Life Insurance Companies 
H.R. 3191 — Public Law 88-191, approved December 5, 1963 
Exempts life insurance companies from a 1913 act regulating money lending on securities in the District of Columbia.

Under existing law, exemptions are applicable to the legitimate business of national banks, licensed bankers, trust companies, savings banks, building and loan associations, small business investment companies licensed and operating under the Small Business Investment Act of 1958, or real estate brokers.

To be exempt, a life insurance company must be authorized to do business in the District of Columbia or in any of the States of the United States.

Motor Vehicles 
S. 490 — Public Law 88-89, approved August 5, 1963 
Eliminates the requirement that an alphabetical file on motor vehicle and trailer liens be kept by the District of Columbia.

Motor Vehicles Inspection 
S. 485 — Passed Senate June 26; pending in House District of Columbia Committee 
The purpose of this bill is to require the payment of a $1 reinspection fee for every reinspection subsequent to the initial one.

Authorizes the Commissioners, at their discretion, to provide by regulation for the inspection of motor vehicles or trailers which, at the time of inspection, are not required to be registered in District of Columbia.

Municipal Court 
H.R. 3537 — Public Law 88-60, approved July 8, 1963 
This bill will

Increase the jurisdiction of the municipal court of the District of Columbia in civil cases from $3,000 to $10,000.

Increase the subpoena powers of the municipal court of the District of Columbia to issue and serve subpoenas for attendance any point within a 25-mile radius of the District.

Allow the district court for the District of Columbia to certify actions to the municipal court which will not justify a judgment in excess of $10,000.

Change the name of the municipal court for the District of Columbia to the District of Columbia Court of General Sessions, and also change the name of the municipal court of appeals to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

Practical Nurses' Licensing Act 
S. 933 — Passed Senate August 28; passed House, amended November 6 
Amends the District of Columbia Nurses' Licensing Act to make it possible for competent practical nurses to obtain a practical nursing license without written examination if they have resided in the District and actively cared for the sick in the Washington metropolitan area for the year preceding the effective date of the licensing act (July 29, 1961).

Registered Nurses Act 
H.R. 1933 — Public Law 88-81, approved July 30, 1963 
Amends existing law to lower from 21 to 19 years the age requirement for registration as a nurse by the Nurses' Examining Board of the District of Columbia.

Relocation Costs 
S. 1024 — Passed Senate November 26; pending in the House District of Columbia Committee 
Authorizes appropriation of District of Columbia funds for relocation costs, to individuals, families, businesses, and nonprofit organizations displaced by District governmental activities up to $200 per individual or family, and $3,000 per business or nonprofit organization, unless in the latter case a greater amount of actual moving expense is certified.

Payment of relocation costs to displacees must be caused by the acquisition of property for construction of highways, buildings, and other public works. However, the bill also provides expanded and more effective relocation services for displacees resulting from condemnation of unsafe and unsanitary buildings, and enforcement of housing regulations.

School Census 
S. 999 — Passed Senate July 22; pending in House District of Columbia Committee
Provides for a school census of all children below the age of 18.  The census must include the name of the school attended by the pupil and whether it is public or private.

Repeals the annual requirement for such a census in existing law and provides that the census be made as frequently as the Superintendent of Schools and the Board of Education find it necessary.

School Lunch Program
S. 1078 — Passed Senate July 22; pending in House District of Columbia Committee 
Authorized an annual appropriation of $102,700 to take care of the expenses of the school lunch program in the District of Columbia.

Transit System 
S. 1533 — Public Law 88-212, approved December 18, 1963 
Transfers functions relating to mass transportation from the District of Columbia Public Utilities Commission to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Commission.

Specifically it amends existing law to permit the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Commission, instead of the District of Columbia Public Utilities Commission, to make an annual determination of D.C. Transit System's net operating income and to certify it to the District of Columbia Commissioners for computation of exemptions from the motor vehicle fuel and real estate tax. Under the terms of D.C. Transit's franchise, the transit company is exempt from payment of these taxes to the District of Columbia, to the extent its net earnings are less than 6 ½ percent of gross operating revenues.