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On April 7, 2020, the Council of the District of Columbia adopted the COVID-19 Response Supplemental Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 (“Supplemental Emergency Act”), which will be in effect for 90 days after approval by the Mayor. The Supplemental Emergency Act is in addition to the COVID-19 Response Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 (“Emergency Act”), which the Mayor signed into law on March 17, 2020. The Council also adopted a temporary version of the Emergency Act and will adopt a temporary version of the Supplemental Emergency Act, both of which will be in effect for 225 days after enactment.

 

LABOR, WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT, AND EDUCATION

  • Unemployment Insurance Clarification

    • An “affected employee” shall receive unemployment compensation regardless of whether the employer has provided a date certain for return to work, or whether the employee has a reasonable expectation of continued employment.
      • “Affected employees” are those who are otherwise eligible for unemployment and have become unemployed due to the public health emergency, such as quarantine, ceased or reduced employer operations, or reduction in revenue.
    • The work-search requirement and one-week waiting period are waived for all claimants during the emergency.
    • In conformity with federal law, employment may include individuals who are self-employed, seeking part-time employment, do not have sufficient work history, or otherwise would not qualify for unemployment or pandemic emergency unemployment.
    • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefits authorized by the federal CARES Act will not be charged to the experience rating of base period employers. Employers that have elected to make payments in lieu of contributions will be charged 50% of reimbursements due.
    • DOES shall have broad discretion to waive any eligibility requirement, other than physical ability and availability requirements.
  • District Work-Share Program Expansion

    • The shared work unemployment compensation program is expanded.
    • The voluntary program administered by the Department of Employment Services is designed to reduce unemployment and stabilize the workforce by allowing certain employees to collect unemployment benefits if the employees share the work remaining after a reduction in hours of work and wages.
    • To obtain approval for a shared work program, an employer must, among other things, show that the plan and hours reduction is in lieu of temporary layoffs that would affect at least 10% of employees.
  • Declaration of Emergency Sick Leave

    • Amendment to Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act: During the emergency period, an employer with 50 to 499 employees that is not a health care provider must provide an employee with up to 80 hours, or the number of hours the employee would normally work in a two-week period, of paid leave at the employee’s regular rate for an absence from work for any of the reasons provided in the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act. An employee must be employed for 15 days before the request for leave to be eligible. Qualifying reasons for leave are if the employee:
      • Is subject to a government quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19
      • Has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns
      • Is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis
      • Is caring for an individual who is subject to a government quarantine or isolation order, or has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine, due to COVID-19
      • Is caring for a son or daughter of the employee if the school or childcare for the child is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions, or due to a COVID-19 declared emergency
      • Is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services
    • Relationship to Other Benefits: An employer may require that an employee exhaust available leave under federal or D.C. law or an employer’s own policies prior to using declared emergency leave. If an employee uses all declared emergency leave available and informs the employer that they have a continued need to be absent, the employer must inform the employee of any other leave to which the employee may be entitled under federal or D.C. law or employer policy.
    • Right to Cure: An employer alleged to have violated this requirement by notice from the Mayor has 5 business days to cure the alleged violation.
    • Prohibited Acts: An employee shall not: (1) be required to provide more than 48 hours’ notice of the need to use leave, (2) be required to provide more than reasonable notice of the need to use leave, (3) be subject to threats or retaliation, or (4) be required by the employer to identify another employee to cover the employee’s work hours.
    • Certification: An employer shall not require medical certification unless the employee uses 3 or more consecutive working days of leave. When certification is required, the employee shall not be required to provide it until 1 week after return to work. An employer that does not contribute to a health insurance plan on behalf of the employee shall not require certification.
  • Emergency Leave Enforcement

    • During the emergency, the Universal Paid Leave Fund may be used to enforce declared emergency leave.
  • UDC Fundraising Match

    • The District will increase the rate and extend the period for providing matching funds for private donations to the University of the District of Columbia.
  • Graduation Requirements

    • The DCPS graduation requirement of 100 hours of community service is waived for a senior who would otherwise be eligible to graduate in the 2019–20 school year.
    • If the Superintendent grants an exception to the 180-day instructional requirement for the 2019–20 school year, a Carnegie Unit may consist of fewer than 120 hours of classroom instruction.

 

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AND CONSUMER PROTECTION

  • Enhanced Penalties for Unlawful Trade Practices

    • Any violation of the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Procedures Act, enforced by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, during the emergency is a Class 1 infraction.
  • Mortgage Relief

    • During the emergency and for 60 days thereafter, a mortgage servicer to a residential or commercial mortgage loan under the jurisdiction of the Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (“DISB”) must develop a program that: (1) grants at least a 90-day deferment of payments, (2) waives any fees accrued during the emergency, and (3) does not report to any credit bureau any derogatory information resulting from the deferral.
      • A mortgage servicer is an entity that has a contractual right with a mortgage lender to receive periodic payments pursuant to the terms of a mortgage loan and performs other services in connection with the mortgage.
      • A commercial mortgage loan is a loan for the acquisition, construction, or development of real property, or a loan secured by collateral in such real property, that is owned or used by a person, business, or entity for the purpose of generating a profit and includes single-family housing, multifamily housing, retail, office, and commercial space.
    • The mortgage servicer must approve each application for the program in which a borrower demonstrates evidence of financial hardship resulting from the emergency, including a delinquency or future ability to make payments, and agrees in writing to make the deferred payments within a reasonable time, or five years from the end of the deferment period or the end of the original term, whichever is earlier.
    • Property for which a mortgage foreclosure proceeding was initiated on or before March 11, 2020 is exempt.
    • The DISB may investigate complaints about denial of an application for deferment.
    • A recipient of a mortgage deferral must reduce the rent charged on a qualified commercial or residential tenant in proportion to the reduced mortgage amount paid. A qualified tenant is a tenant who is unable to pay all or portion of rent due to the emergency. The tenant must repay the rent owed within 18 months, or the end of the lease term, whichever occurs first.
  • Residential Tenant Protections

    • All time periods for tenants and tenant organizations to exercise rights under the Rental Housing Conversion and Sale Act of 1980 are tolled until the end of the emergency and for 30 days thereafter.
    • Tenant notices of intent to vacate upon the expiration of a lease provided prior to the emergency are tolled.
    • A rental increase is null and void if it is: effective during the emergency or 30 days thereafter, provided during the emergency, or provided prior to but takes effect during the emergency.
    • All time periods for tenants and tenant organizations to exercise rights under the Rental Housing Act of 1985 are tolled until the end of the emergency and for 30 days thereafter.
    • All rent increases are prohibited during the emergency and for 30 days thereafter.
  • Utilities

    • A cable operator shall not disconnect, suspend, or degrade basic service for nonpayment of a bill, fees, or any other changes during the emergency or for 15 calendar days thereafter. An operator may provide reduced services under a plan that allows for essential use.
    • A telecommunications service provider shall not disconnect, suspend, or degrade basic service for nonpayment of a bill, fees, or any other changes during the emergency or for 15 calendar days thereafter. A provider may provide reduced services under a plan that allows for essential use.
    • The Attorney General may use its consumer protection enforcement authority against any merchant, including a utility provider that violates any provision of this Act or the COVID-19 Response Emergency Amendment Act of 2020.
    • The Department of Energy and Environment’s CRIAC Assistance Fund may be used to assist residential D.C. customers with payment of an outstanding water bill balance. At least $1.26 million must be used for CRIAC assistance.
  • Certified Business Enterprise Assistance

    • Absent a waiver, any contract for a government-assisted project in excess of $250,000 entered into during the period must provide that at least 50% of the dollar volume be subcontracted to small business enterprises (“SBE”). If there are insufficient SBEs to meet this requirement, the requirement may be satisfied by subcontracting 50% of the dollar volume to any qualified CBE.
    • For every dollar expended by a beneficiary with a resident-owned or disadvantaged business, the beneficiary shall receive additional credit against the CBE minimum expenditure.
  • Funeral Services Consumer Protection

    • Various consumer protections for funeral services are established.
  • Debt Collection

    • Specified actions to collect a consumer debt by a creditor or debt collector are prohibited during the emergency and for 60 days thereafter.
    • A debt collector is prohibited from initiating communication with a debtor during the emergency.
  • Carry Out and Delivery

    • A retailer with commercial street frontage at the Washington Convention Center that sells foods and is approved by Events DC to sell alcohol for on-premises consumption that registers with the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board and receives written authorization may sell beer, wine, or spirits in closed containers for carryout or delivery, so long as they are accompanied by a food purchase.
    • An on-premises retailer’s licensee, with written authorization, may sell beer, wine, or spirits for carryout or delivery, so long as they are accompanied by a food purchase.
  • DC Opportunity Accounts Expanded Use

    • The match rates and District aggregate contribution limits for contributions to opportunity accounts are increased.
    • Limitations on the use and emergency withdrawal of opportunity account funds are relaxed.
  • Contractor Advance Payment

    • An agency may make an advance payment to a certified contractor for purposes related to the emergency when necessary to achieve the purposes of the Small and Certified Business Enterprise Development and Assistance Act, and may provide an advance of more than 10% of the total value of the contract.
  • Vacant Property Designations

    • A commercial property that houses a business that has closed during the emergency as a result of the emergency, and for 60 days thereafter shall not be added to the vacant property list.
  • Franchise Tax Exclusion

    • Small business loans awarded and forgiven under the Paycheck Protection Program of the federal CARES Act are excluded from gross income for income and franchise tax purposes.

 

JUDICIARY AND PUBLIC SAFETY

  • Police Complaints Board Investigation Extension

    • Deadlines for certain Police Complaints Board investigations are extended.
  • FEMS Reassignments

    • Fire and EMS Department (“FEMS”) personnel may be reassigned from firefighting and emergency medical services operations based on inability to wear personal protective equipment consistent with medical and health guidelines during an emergency.
  • Civil Rights Enforcement

    • The Attorney General may obtain injunctive relief, civil penalties, and any other form of relief permitted, as well as subpoenas, under the D.C. Human Rights Act during the emergency.
  • Extension of Time for Non-Custodial Arrestees to Report

    • A person subject to a non-custodial arrest during an emergency must appear before the relevant law enforcement agency to complete the arrest process within 90 days.
  • Good Time Credits and Compassionate Release

    • Defendants serving terms for felony offenses committed before August 5, 2000 may be retroactively awarded good time credit.
    • The court may modify a term of imprisonment under certain circumstances on motion.
  • Electronic Wills

    • A will may be attested and subscribed in the electronic presence of the testator.

 

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

  • Public Health Emergency

    • D.C. government employees and contractors are exempt from civil liability for actions taken in scope of their employment during the emergency, except in instances of gross negligence.
    • The Mayor may extend the 15-day emergency declared on March 11, 2020 for an additional 90-day period, and for 15-day periods thereafter.
  • Extension of Care and Custody for Aged-Out Youth

    • The Child and Family Services Agency may retain jurisdiction of a minor in legal custody of a public agency who turns 21 during an emergency for the period of the emergency and up to 90 days thereafter.
  • Hospital Support Funding

    • The Mayor may issue grants to eligible hospitals for certain COVID-19-related purposes.

 

GOVERNMENT DIRECTION AND SUPPORT

  • Tolling of Matters Transmitted to the Council

    • The time periods for the Council to act on various matters are extended.
  • Council Code of Conduct

    • A Councilmember may disseminate information about services and offers, including from for-profit entities, that the Councilmember determines is in the public interest in light of the emergency.
    • A Councilmember or the Councilmember’s staff may transmit an electronic newsletter in the 90-day period immediately before an election without submitting it for review by the General Counsel or Office of Campaign Finance.
  • Advisory Neighborhood Commissions

    • An ANC vacancy occurring during the emergency will not be filled.
    • The time to make available and circulate nominating petitions for candidate for ANC member is tolled.
    • Times for agencies to provide notice to ANCs are extended.
  • Disclosure Extension; Campaign Finance Training; and Disbursement Extension

    • The deadline for members of the D.C. Retirement Board to file financial disclosures is extended from April 30, 2020 to July 30, 2020.
    • The Board of Ethics and Government Accountability may change the dates in 2020 for filing financial disclosure and lobbyist activity reports.
    • Office of Campaign Finance (“OCF”) candidate and treasurer trainings may be conducted online.
    • The time for OCF to make disbursements under the Fair Elections Program is extended to 5 business days.
  • Election Preparations

    • Vote Centers operated by the Board of Elections (“Board”) are deemed polling places for the June 2 and June 16 elections.
    • The Board will mail every registered qualified elector an absentee ballot and postage-paid return envelope for the June 2 and June 16 elections.
    • Any D.C. agency that provides public assistance must regularly promote the Board’s revised plans for the June 2 and June 16 elections on social media, including on how to register to vote and vote by mail.
    • The requirement to post an alphabetical list of registered qualified electors in all libraries 45 days prior to an election is waived for the June 2 and June 16 elections.
  • Absentee Ballot Request Signature Waiver

    • A request for an absentee ballot for the June 2 or June 16 election need not include the voter’s signature.
  • Board of Elections Stipends

    • For the remainder of 2020, the total permissible compensation for a Board member is increased to $25,000 for a member $53,000 for the Chairperson.
  • Administrative Hearings Deadline Tolling

    • The 90-day time period to review an adverse action concerning public assistance or under the Homeless Services Reform Act is tolled.
  • Approval of Mayor Nominations

    • Various pending nominees to agency directorships, boards, and commissions are approved.

 

BORROWING AUTHORITY

  • Fiscal Year 2020 General Obligation Notes Emergency Act of 2020

    • The issuance of $300 million in general obligation notes is authorized to meet appropriations for FY20.
  • Fiscal Year 2020 Tax Revenue Anticipation Notes Emergency Act of 2020

    • The issuance of $200 million in general obligation revenue anticipation notes is authorized to meet appropriations for FY20.

 

REVENUE BONDS

  • Revenue bonds for Studio Theater, Inc., DC Scholars Public Charter School, Inc., Washington Housing Conservancy, National Public Radio, Inc., and Public Welfare Foundation, Inc. are approved.

 

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.