Norton Blasts Lee Bill Gutting D.C. Occupational Licensing Requirements, Creating New D.C. Council Committee

Jul 13, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today blasted Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) for introducing a bill to use the authoritarian federal power of Congress to interfere and alter the District of Columbia’s local occupational licensing laws.  Norton said Lee is shamefully using D.C. as a puppet in order to promote a model for the states to adopt, which he touted in a pandering speech to the Heritage Foundation.  Lee’s bill (S. 3158) targets occupational licensing laws in the District, military bases, and certain national parks.  The bill also requires the D.C. Council to create a legislative committee or subcommittee on occupational regulations.  Norton and other Democrats believe a review of licensing laws could be timely and beneficial, but she said that using federal power on a profoundly local issue against a local jurisdiction stirs resentment and contradicts the purpose of this bill to encourage state action.

“Senator Lee’s hypocrisy on local control issues apparently knows no bounds,” Norton said.  “One of the most adamant proponents of keeping authority within the states, Senator Lee is now seeking to use federal power to undemocratically alter the District of Columbia’s local laws concerning occupational licensing.  This quintessentially local decision must be made locally, not by politicians who are unaccountable to local residents.  Working with his own state’s local leaders would be optimum and probably welcome.  If Senator Lee would like a meeting with our mayor and members of the D.C. Council to offer his suggestions, I would be glad to arrange one.  We serve notice, however, that the District is not Senator Lee’s toy to try out his personal model for the states or the District of Columbia.”

This marks the second time in less than a week that Lee has promoted legislation attacking D.C.’s right to self-government.  Lee rewrote his anti-LGBTQ bill, the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), in order to have it apply to the District government.  FADA promotes discrimination against the LGBT community by prohibiting the federal and District governments from denying benefits, contracts and the like to individuals, non-profits and for-profits that discriminate against LGBT people, as well as individuals who engage in extramarital relations, based on a sincerely-held religious belief or moral conviction.  Lee has also twice introduced a bill that would ban all abortions in D.C. after 20 weeks, with very limited exceptions.