DC council raises gas tax, approves emergency policing and justice reform bill

D.C. has forwarded a 2021 budget that council members hope will pull the District out of the COVID-19 pandemic that ravaged its bottom line.

The council passed the budget in its first of two votes Tuesday afternoon.

Though Mayor Muriel Bowser asked council members to avoid any tax increases in its fiscal year 2021 budget, the council agreed to restructure the gas tax to be competitive with neighboring jurisdictions, raising it 10% to 33.8%.

The council also lowered the threshold for imposing estate taxes and delayed a tax break for publicly traded companies, raised $7 million in the process.

Council members also voted to end a tax break for tech companies, which amounts to $17 million.

The extra funds D.C. saved by raising some business and other taxes would be reallocated to homeless housing, assistance for undocumented workers and student mental health programs.

The next vote on the budget is later this month.

The D.C. Council also approved a new emergency policing and justice reform bill Tuesday that repeals and replaces a similar bill passed last month.

Under this new bill, the police department would have five days instead of three to release the names of officers and body-camera footage after a deadly use of force incident.

It would also allow felons to vote while still serving their sentences in D.C.

Council member David Grosso introduced an amendment that would ban all law enforcement agencies in the city from using a device that simulates a cell phone tower for the purpose of tracking phones. Grosso believes this may be being used to track protesters.

The amendment was defeated.

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Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter turned morning anchor at WTOP News.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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