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S. 1435 (93rd): District of Columbia Charter Act

The District of Columbia Home Rule Act is a United States federal law passed on December 24, 1973 which devolved certain congressional powers of the District of Columbia to local government, furthering District of Columbia home rule. In particular, it includes the District Charter (also called the Home Rule Charter), which provides for an elected mayor and the Council of the District of Columbia. The council is composed of a chairman elected at large and twelve members, four of whom are elected at large, and one from each of the District's eight wards. Council members are elected to four-year terms.

Under the "Home Rule" government, Congress reviews all legislation passed by the council before it can become law and retains authority over the District's budget. Also, the president appoints the District's judges, and the District still has no voting representation in Congress. Because of these and other limitations on local government, many citizens of the District continue to lobby for the greater autonomy, such as full statehood.

The Home Rule Act specifically prohibits the Council from enacting certain laws that, among other restrictions, would:

  • lend public credit for private projects;
  • impose a tax on individuals who work in the District but live elsewhere;
  • make any changes to the Heights of Buildings Act of 1910;
  • pass any law changing the composition or jurisdiction of the local courts;
  • enact a local budget that is not balanced; and
  • gain any additional authority over the National Capital Planning Commission, Washington Aqueduct, or District of Columbia National Guard.

This summary is from Wikipedia.

Last updated Oct 11, 2018. Source: Wikipedia

The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.

12/24/1973--Public Law. (LATEST SUMMARY) District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act - =Title I: Short Title, Purposes, and Definitions= - Declares it to be the intention of Congress, subject to the retention by Congress of the ultimate legislative authority over the Nation's Capital granted by the Constitution, to: (1) delegate legislative powers to the government of the District of Columbia; (2) authorize the election of local officials; (3) grant powers of local self-government; (4) improve the governmental structure; and (5) relieve Congress of the burden of legislating upon essentially local District matters. Sets forth definitions of terms used in this Act. =Title II: Governmental Reorganization= - Transfers the District of Columbia Redevelopment Land Agency to the District of Columbia Government. Provides that the National Capital Housing Authority shall be an agency of the District of Columbia Government. Establishes the National Capital Planning Commission as a Federal planning agency in the National Capital. Provides that the Commissioner of the District of Columbia shall be the central planning agency for the government of the District of Columbia. Enumerates the Commissioner's duties as such planning agency. Transfers the Secretary of Labor's manpower service functions to the Commissioner. =Title III: District Charter Preamble, Legislative Power, and Charter Amending Procedure= - States that the charter for the District of Columbia set forth in this Act shall establish the means of governance of the District following its acceptance by a majority of the registered qualified electors. Sets forth provisions for amending the Charter. =Title IV: The District Charter= - Establishes a 13 member Council of the District of Columbia. Specifies the qualifications for holding office, the compensation to be paid, and the terms of office. Vests all legislative powers of the District of Columbia (subject to specified Congressional retention) in the Council. Sets forth procedures and responsibilities of the Council and of the Chairman of the Council. Establishes the Office of Mayor, and sets forth provisions for qualifications, vacancy and compensation. Provides that all executive power of the District shall be vested in the Mayor. Provides that the Mayor shall be the central planning agency for the District and shall be responsible for implementation of the comprehensive plan for the District which may include: (1) land use elements; (2) urban renewal and redevelopment elements; (3) a multi-year program of municipal public works; and (4) physical, social, economic, transportation, and population elements. Vests judicial power of the District in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Establishes a District of Columbia Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure, of seven members, which shall have the power to suspend, retire, or remove a judge of a District of Columbia court as provided in this Act. Prescribes the procedures for such removal, suspension, and involuntary retirement. Sets forth the procedures for nomination and appointment of judges. Directs the President to nominate, from the list of persons recommended to him by the District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission, and, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, appoint all judges of the District of Columbia Courts. Establishes the District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission and enumerates the criteria required for membership on such Commission. Directs the Council to adopt a budget, submitted by the Mayor, for each year. Directs the Mayor to include in the annual budget: (1) a multi-year plan for all agencies included in the District budget, for all sources of funding, and for such program categories as the Mayor identifies; and (2) a multi-year capital improvements plan for all agencies. Requires the District of Columbia courts to prepare and annually submit to the Mayor estimates of the expenditures and appropriations necessary for the operation of the court system. Prescribes the procedures required prior to the enactment of any appropriation for the District of Columbia by Congress. Provides that the Mayor shall have charge of the administration of the financial affairs of the District. Enumerates the financial duties of the Mayor. Sets forth provisions regarding accounting supervision and control to be followed by the Mayor. Establishes the Office of District of Columbia Auditor to conduct an annual audit of the accounts and operations of the District government. Empowers the District with authority to issue and redeem general obligation bonds for capital projects. Prescribes the procedures for the issuance of such bonds. Authorizes the Council to issue negotiable notes for short-term borrowing. Provides that bonds and notes issued by the Council pursuant to this title and interest thereon shall be exempt from all Federal and District taxation except estate, inheritance, and gift taxes. Authorizes all domestic insurance companies and other fiduciaries to invest funds in bonds issued under this title. Directs the Mayor to enter into agreements with States and local jurisdictions for payments to the District of charges for waste treatment services. Requires the District to pay its share of the cost of reservoirs on the Potomac River and of the Adopted Regional System of the National Capital Transportation Act. Authorizes the Council to issue obligations to borrow money in the financing of housing, health, transit, recreational, utility, college and industrial facilities. Creates the following independent agencies for the District of Columbia: Board of Elections, Zoning Commission, Public Service Commission, Armory Board, and Board of Education. =Title V: Federal Payment= - Makes it the duty of the Mayor to develop intercity expenditure and revenue comparisons based on data supplied by the Bureau of the Census, and to identify elements of cost and benefits to the District which result from the usual role of the District as the Nation's Capital. Authorizes to be appropriated as the annual Federal payment to the District for the fiscal year 1975, $230,000,000; for fiscal year 1976, $254,000,000; for fiscal year 1977, $280,000,000; and for fiscal year 1978 and each fiscal year thereafter, $300,000,000. =Title VI: Reservation of Congressional Authority= - Stipulates that the Council shall have no authority to: (1) pass any Act contrary to the provisions of this Act, with specified exceptions; (2) impose taxes on property of the United States or the States; (3) lend the public credit for support of any private undertaking; (4) enact any Act, concerning the functions or property of the United States or which is not restricted in its application exclusively in or to the District; (5) enact any Act relating to organization and jurisdiction of the District of Columbia courts; (6) impose any tax on personal income of any individual not a resident of the District; (7) enact any Act which permits the building of any structure within the District of Columbia in excess of the height limitations contained in the Act of June 1, 1910; (8) enact any Act with respect to the Commission on Mental Health (9) enact any Act relating to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia or any other court of the United States in the District other than the District courts, or relating to the duties or powers of the United States attorney or the United States Marshal for the District of Columbia; or (10) enact, for 24 months, any Act relating to criminal procedure or to crimes and treatment of prisoners. Sets forth limitations on borrowing and spending. Prescribes procedures for Congressional action on specified District of Columbia matters. =Title VII: Referendum; Succession in Government; Temporary Provisions; Miscellaneous; Amendments to District of Columbia Election Act; Rules of Construction; and Effective Dates= - Provides for a referendum within 5 months of enactment to determine whether the registered qualified electors of the District of Columbia accept the Charter (title IV). Transfers the functions of specified existing government agencies to the Council. Provides for the continuance of pending actions and proceedings of defunct agencies. Authorizes the President of the United States to take such action as necessary during the interim period to enable the Board of Elections properly to perform its functions under this Act. Authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to advance to the District of Columbia the sum of $750,000 for use in paying the expenses of the Board of Elections and in carrying into effect the provisions of this Act. States that, for the purpose of preventing duplication, any Federal officer or agency may furnish services to the District Government and any District officer or agency may furnish services to the Federal Government. Provides for an independent annual postaudit by the General Accounting Office. Provides for advisory neighborhood councils to advise the District Government on matters of public policy. Establishes, within the District of Columbia, the National Capital Service Area which shall include the principal Federal monuments, the White House, the Capitol Building, the United States Supreme Court building, and the Federal executive, legislative, and judicial office buildings located adjacent to the Mall and the Capitol Building and other specified areas. Empowers the President, under emergency conditions, to use the Metropolitan Police force for Federal purposes. States that no person otherwise qualified to hold the office of chairman or member of the Council or Mayor shall be disqualified from being a candidate by reason of his employment in the competitive or excepted service of the United States. Provides for the termination of the District's authority to borrow from the Treasury. Makes conforming amendments to the District of Columbia Election Act concerning elections of the Mayor, the District Delegate, and the Council. Sets forth the effective dates and rules of construction of the titles of this Act.