Alternative to DC Vote Proposed
Published: Friday, February 11, 2011
Updated: Saturday, February 12, 2011 17:02
The message on D.C.'s license plates may soon come to pass. Instead of giving the District a voting seat in the House of Representatives, which it has sought for decades, residents would be exempt from federal taxes.
Rep. Allen West's (R-Fla.) proposal would end the "taxation without representation" complaint and likely stimulate the District's economy, according to the DCist.
Leah Ramsay, communications manager of DC Vote, an advocacy group that works to secure full representation for the District, supports the motivation behind West's movement, but ultimately believes that D.C.'s autonomy should take priority.
"It's great to see someone in Congress interested in D.C.'s plight," she said. "However, we want the full rights we've been paying for with our taxes for 200 years. We don't want a consolation."
West's recommendation comes following Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton's newest proposal, which would allow the District to pass local civil and criminal legislation without congressional review.
The bill, titled the District of Columbia Legislative Autonomy Act of 2011, is the fifth in her Free and Equal D.C. series. The first four bills call for statehood for the District of Columbia, representation in the House and Senate and the ability to enact the city's budget without congressional approval.
Under current law, D.C. has no voting representatives in Congress and all legislation is subject to congressional review. This can slow down the local lawmaking process, as review of the city's legislative proposals can only occur when congress is in session. Rather than completely voiding congressional review, the bill would make it optional. Norton is hoping that removing unnecessary review will save money and time for both the federal government and the District.
The bill comes amid growing tension between District officials and Republicans in the House, who proposed legislation that would ban the use of District tax dollars for funding abortions last week. Advocates for the District's political autonomy such as DC Vote are expecting more political battles ahead.
"These are hot-button issues that congressmen will use to gain support from constituents back home — but they aren't imposing them at home, only on the District," Ramsay said.
Although it is unlikely that they will pass, Norton's bills have taken on symbolic value for the District's quest for full representation.
"We must not cease pressing for budget autonomy until we get it." Norton said in a press release. "Allowing the city to spend its own funds, which residents raise through their own local taxes, is second only to achieving full voting rights. No principle is more essential to the right of self-government, the oldest American principle."