For Immediate Release: January 8, 2019
Robert White Re-Introduces Bills to Protect Babies,
Help Residents Start Their Own Businesses, and
to Ensure Fairness in Background Checks
Washington, DC –
Today, Councilmember Robert White re-introduced three bills: the
Babies Safe at Home Act
Micro-Business Startup Fee Relief Act
, and the
Criminal Record Accuracy Assurance Act (CRAA)
. Each of these bills are particularly vital for District residents as White continues to advocate for improving child safety, helping more first-time entrepreneurs start businesses and existing small-businesses avoid steep fees, and ensuring that residents are not barred from housing or jobs because of charges that never resulted in convictions or convictions the courts have sealed or expunged.
White introduced the
Babies Safe at Home Act
which establishes a grant program that provides up to $1,000 for low-income families to help in baby-proofing their homes. The cost associated with baby-proofing can be substantial and often a burden for low-income families, leaving low-income children more than twice as likely to experience accidental deaths than other children. The cost of basic items can range from $250 to $1,200 to purchase and install things like corner bumpers, furniture anchors, socket plugs, hardware cabinet locks, toilet seat latches, safety gates, door stops, anti-scald devices and everything else that is necessary to make a home safe for infants and toddlers.
Councilmember White stated that, “As the father of a two-year-old daughter, I understand how it feels to worry constantly about my child’s safety and how difficult and expensive it is to baby-proof a home. The worst kind of infant and toddler injuries are the ones we can prevent.”
White also introduced the
Micro-Business Startup Fee Relief Amendment Act
. This bill reduces, by 75%, the cost of a new or renewed basic business license, and all required endorsements, taxes, and fees for businesses with taxable income of $100,000 or less. This means that aspiring business owners won't be stifled by the hundreds of dollars it currently costs to start a small business. Residents who start small catering and cleaning companies, and others working on new business ventures, will be able to keep hundreds of extra dollars in their pockets to use to expand their businesses. Minorities, returning citizens, youth, and seniors, who face discrimination in the job market and in getting business loans, will have a greater opportunity for financial independence and success.
White says, “People with little means, like our youth, returning citizens, and seniors, often don’t get the opportunity to bring their ideas to the market because of the cost of entry. That’s not fair, nor is it good for our local economy.”
Third, White introduced the
Criminal Record Accuracy Assurance Act
which prohibits criminal history providers from sharing information related to convictions that courts have expunged, sealed, or set aside, as well as arrests and charges that did not result in a conviction. This bill also authorizes the Office of Human Rights to receive administrative complaints and establishes penalties for violations. This means that District residents will not miss out on opportunities for employment or housing because of outdated, inaccurate, or irrelevant information reported by companies that provide criminal background checks. Currently, when an employer or housing provider requests a background check, companies sometimes report information related to offenses that have since been expunged, sealed, set aside; or arrests or charges that have not resulted in a conviction. The CRAA bill would bring the District in line with best practices around the country.
White says, "When the Council or the Courts determine that an offense should be sealed or expunged, that determination must prevail, and we need to ensure that the offense does not continue to hang over the heads of our residents by staying in the files of private companies indefinitely." When a resident has been charged but not convicted, a mere allegation should not stand in the way of securing a job or housing. This legislation would ensure that these companies report only current, accurate information about criminal convictions.