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On May 5, 2020, the Council of the District of Columbia adopted Bill 23-750, the Coronavirus Omnibus Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 (“Omnibus Act”). This is the fourth D.C. legislative package adopted since Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a public health emergency on March 11, 2020 to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic (COVID-19 Supplemental Corrections Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 (April 21); COVID-19 Response Supplemental Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 (April 7); COVID-19 Response Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 (March 17)). The Omnibus Act applies retroactively to March 11, 2020 and will take effect for 90 days upon approval by the Mayor.

 

Alcoholic Beverage Regulation

  • Requirements for on-premises retailer’s licensees to register with the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to sell beer, wine, or spirits in closed containers accompanied by prepared food for off-premises consumption are clarified.
  • Certain alcohol license application and notice requirements are modified.
  • The required time for surrendering a license for closure or ceased operations is tolled during the emergency.

Corporate Filing Extension Clarification

  • There shall be no late fee for delivering the 2020 biennial report to the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, so long as it is delivered by June 1, 2020.

Cooperative Association Remote Meetings

  • During the emergency, members of a cooperative association may conduct regular and special meetings remotely regardless of whether it is authorized by the association’s articles or bylaws.

Trade Name Renewals and Taxation of Microgrants

  • Public health emergency microgrants are excluded from gross income for tax purposes.
  • There shall be no late fee for filing an April 1, 2020, trade name renewal application with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, so long as it is filed by June 1, 2020.

Third-Party Food Delivery Commissions

  • During the emergency, a person, corporation, partnership, or association operating a third-party food delivery platform must register with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.
  • During the emergency, a platform may not charge a restaurant a commission in excess of 15% of the purchase price of an online order.
  • A person may not cause a platform to reduce the compensation rate paid to a delivery service driver, or garnish gratuities, in order to comply with the maximum commission requirement.
  • During the emergency, a platform must disclose to the customer any commission, fee, or monetary payment imposed by the platform on the restaurant.
  • A person who violates these requirements shall be subject to a fine and civil infraction by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

Emergency Credit Alerts

  • If a consumer demonstrates evidence of financial hardship resulting directly or indirectly from the cause of the emergency, and for 60 days thereafter (the “covered time period”), a consumer reporting agency that maintains a file on a consumer must include a COVID-19 alert beginning on the date of the request, unless the consumer requests that it be removed.
  • No user of a consumer report may use or consider any adverse information in a report that was the result of an action or inaction by a consumer that occurred during the covered time period if there was a COVID-19 alert.
  • This provision does not apply to a national bank or a federal savings association, except to a subsidiary or affiliate of a national bank, other than a subsidiary or affiliate that is chartered as a national bank.
  • When a D.C. resident requests a copy of a credit report, the entity providing the report must notify the resident of their right to request a COVID-19 alert.
  • If a person or entity violates this section, the affected consumer may bring a civil action.
  • The Attorney General may petition the Superior Court for relief.

Rental Tenant Payment Plans

  • During the emergency and for one year thereafter (the “covered period”), a “provider” must develop a rent payment plan program for eligible residential and commercial tenants.
    • A “provider” is any person receiving or entitled to receive rents or benefits for the use and occupancy of a commercial unit, or of a residential rental unit and that has 5 or more residential units currently rented or available for rent.
    • An “eligible tenant” is a residential or commercial retail property tenant that has notified the landlord of an inability to pay all or a portion of the rent due as a result of the emergency, is not receiving a rent reduction under the D.C. COVID-19 mortgage relief program, and is not a franchise, unless the franchise is owned by a District resident and operated in the District.
    • Under a plan, the provider must permit an eligible tenant to enter into  plan for rent that comes due during the covered period and prior to the cessation of the tenancy, waive fees or penalties arising out of entering into the plan, not report to a credit bureau delinquent rent that is subject to the payment plan or report the payment plan as derogatory information, and notify all tenants of the availability, terms, and application process for the program.
    • Providers must permit tenants with a payment plan to pay an amount greater than the monthly amount provided in the plan. Providers may not require or request a tenant to provide a lump sum payment. The payment plan must be agreed to in writing. Providers may use any amount held on behalf of the tenant to satisfy amounts owed under a plan, so long as the tenant agrees in writing.
    • A provider must establish procedures governing how tenants apply for the program. An application must be made available online and by telephone.
    • A provider must approve an application in which a tenant demonstrates evidence of financial hardship resulting directly or indirectly from the public health emergency that is in addition to any delinquency or future inability to make payments in existence prior to the emergency that would cause the tenant to be unable to qualify for renting the unit based on the qualification criteria that were applied to the tenant when they were approved. The tenant also must agree in writing to make payments according to the plan.
    • A provider who receives an application must retain it for at least 3 years.
    • A residential tenant whose application is denied may file a written complaint with the Rent Administrator. A commercial tenant whose application is denied may file a written complaint with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

Commercial Tenant Rent Increase Clarification

  • The prohibition against rent increases for “commercial property” during the emergency is revised to apply only to “commercial retail property.”

Eviction Clarification

  • During the emergency and for 60 days thereafter, a person aggrieved may not file a complaint for possession of real property without right.

Residential Amenity Fees

  • If, during the emergency and consistent with applicable law or a Mayor’s order, a housing provider temporarily stops providing an amenity that a tenant pays for in addition to rent, the amount charged for the amenity during the emergency must be returned to the tenant pro rata. If a housing provider temporarily stops providing a service or facility that is lawfully included in the rent charged, the housing provider may not be required to reduce the rent charged.

Residential Accommodation Cleaning Requirements

  • During the emergency, the owner of a housing accommodation must clean common areas on a regular basis, including surfaces that are regularly touched.
  • A “housing accommodation” is any structure or building containing one or more residential units that are not occupied by the owner, include apartments, efficiency apartments, rooms, accessory dwelling units, cooperatives, homeowner associations, condominiums, multifamily apartment buildings, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and group homes.

Out of School Time Report Waiver

  • During the emergency, the Office of Out of School Time Grants and Youth Outcomes may waive the requirement to conduct an annual, community-wide needs assessment.

UDC Board of Trustees Terms

  • The terms of members of the UDC Board of Trustees are modified.

Notice of Modified Staffing Levels

  • During the emergency, a nursing facility that is unable to meet its staffing requirements as a result of the circumstances giving rise to the emergency must notify the Department of Health.

Long-Term Care Facility Reporting Positive Cases

  • Each long-term care facility must report daily to the Department of Health the number of SARS-CoV-2 positive cases and related deaths for employees and residents during the emergency and for 60 days thereafter.

Contact Tracing Hiring Requirements

  • Under the Contact Trace Force initiative, the Director of the Department of Health must establish a goal and make the best effort to hire at least 50% District residents for all positions, and establish a goal and make the best effort to hire at least 25% graduates from a D.C. workforce development or adult education program for the position of investigator.

Shared Work Program Clarification

  • Definitions and requirements are clarified for the shared work program, a voluntary program that provides an alternative to layoffs for employers experiencing a temporary decline in businesses.

Paid Sick Leave Enforcement Clarification

  • Use of the Universal Paid Leave Implementation Fund for activities related to enforcement of paid declared emergency leave is limited to $500,000.

Composting Virtual Training

  • During the emergency, the Mayor may provide training for the Homeowner Composting Initiative Program remotely through videoconference.

Ballot Access Reform

  • For the November 3, 2020, General Election, petition sheets in support of a candidate may be electronically made available and returned. Signatures shall not be invalidated because the signer was also the circulator on the same petition sheet.
  • The voter signature requirement for ballot access by petition for the November 3, 2020, General Election are reduced to 250 voters for Delegate or at-large member of the Council, 150 voters for ward member of the Council or at-large member of the State Board of Education, and 50 voters for ward member of the State Board of Education.
  • Format requirements for initiative or referendum petition sheets are modified. In calendar year 2020, initiative and referendum petition sheets may be electronically made available and returned.

ANC Petitioning and Grantmaking

  • Candidates for ANC for the November 3, 2020, General Election shall be nominated by a petition signed by not fewer than 10 registered qualified electors. Petitions may be electronically made available and returned. Signatures shall not be invalidated because the signer was also the circulator on the same petition sheer.
  • During the emergency, an ANC may approve grants to organizations assisting in the response to the emergency anywhere in the District, even if the services are duplicative of those performed by the District government.

Remote Notarizations

  • During the emergency, the Mayor may authorize a notary public to perform notarial acts by “audio-visual communication,” regardless of the notary’s location.
    • “Audio-visual communication” is an electronic device or process that enables a notary to view, in real time, an individual and to compare for consistency the information and photos on government-issued identification, and be specifically designed to facilitate remote notarizations.
    • To perform a remote notarization, a notary must notify the Mayor, perform the notarization electronically according to a specified procedure, retain a recording of the act for three years, and indicate in a certificate and in a journal that the individual was not in the notary’s physical presence.

Electronic Witnessing

  • During the emergency, electronic witnessing in certain guardianship matters is permitted.

Contractor Reporting of Positive Cases

  • A D.C. government contractor must immediately report to the government if it learns, or has reason to believe, that a “covered employee” has come into contact with, had a high likelihood of coming into contact with, or has worked in close physical proximity to a “covered individual,” when either individual was exposed, or suspected to have been exposed, to SARS-CoV-2.
    • A “covered employee” is an employee or agent of a contractor that has tested positive for COVID-19, is in quarantine or isolation, or is exhibiting symptoms.
    • A “covered individual” is a government employee or agent, individual in the care of the District or the contractor, or a member of the public who interacted with, or was in close proximity to, an exposed person while the exposed person was at a District government facility.
  • A contractor must immediately cease the on-site performance of a covered employee until the employee no longer poses a health risk as determined in writing by a licensed health care provider.
  • The District must securely maintain the name, phone number, and email address of an exposed person.

Liability Clarification

  • Liability limitations related to the emergency response are clarified to include certain related donations.

Jail Reporting

  • During the emergency, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice must provide the Council Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety with a weekly report that includes a description of conditions and COVID-19 testing for individuals detained in the D.C. Jail.

8th and O Disposition Extension

  • For the disposition of 1336 8th Street NW, the affordable housing requirements are modified and the time period for completing the disposition is extended to September 15, 2020.

 

This material is for informational purposes only and should not be relied on for legal advice.  For legal assistance with an employment or business matter, contact our Firm through the “Contact Us” page on our website, or calling us at 202-795-9999.