Norton to Introduce Bill to Remove Federal Government’s Authority Over District-Owned Land

Oct 4, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today said that she will introduce a bill to remove the authority of a federal agency, the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), to review or approve the development of District of Columbia government-owned land.  This bill is part of a series of bills Norton has been introducing on a dual track: expanding home rule while pursing statehood.

“It is outrageous that the federal government can slow or block the development of District-owned land,” Norton said.  “The District is not a federal agency, and should never be treated as such by federal law.”

Under federal law, the development of District-owned public buildings, including the location, height, bulk, number of stories and size of such buildings, in the “central area” is subject to NCPC approval.  The District is required to consult with NCPC on its buildings outside the central area, but NCPC has only advisory authority in those areas.  The central area is defined by the concurrent action of NCPC and the D.C. Council, and currently consists of the Downtown and Shaw Urban Renewal Areas.  NCPC consists of 12 members: three appointed by the President, two appointed by the Mayor, the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Defense, the Administrator of General Services, the Mayor, the Chair of the D.C. Council, the Chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Norton has introduced the following bills to expand home rule so far this Congress.

  • The District of Columbia Paperwork Reduction Act (H.R. 1479) would eliminate the congressional review period for D.C. bills.
  • The District of Columbia Local Prosecutor Establishment Act of 2017 (H.R. 1523) would allow the District to prosecute all crimes committed under its local laws.  Currently, the U.S. Attorney for the District prosecutes almost all crimes committed by adults under local D.C. laws.
  • The District of Columbia National Guard Home Rule Act (H.R. 1658) would give the D.C. Mayor the authority to deploy the D.C. National Guard for local matters.  Unlike governors of the states, and even territories, the District’s chief executive officer has no authority over its local Guard.
  • The District of Columbia Home Rule Clemency Act (H.R. 1765) would give the District exclusive authority, like the states and territories, to grant clemency to offenders convicted under its local laws.  Currently, this authority is exercised in D.C. by the President.
  • The District of Columbia Civil Enforcement Equality Act (H.R. 4678) would allow the District to enter into contracts with private attorneys to sue on the District's behalf for violations of D.C. law that may otherwise go unpunished due to a lack of resources.  States, cities and most federal agencies have the authority to enter into such contracts to sue for violations of their laws.
  • The District of Columbia Home Rule Non-Discrimination Act of 2018 (H.R. 5265) would eliminate the applicability of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 to the District.
  • The District of Columbia Police Home Rule Act (H.R. 6129) would repeal the President’s authority to assume emergency control of the local D.C. police department.
  • The District of Columbia Home Rule Bridges Act (H.R. 6153) would repeal a law that makes it a crime for a person in D.C. to obstruct any bridge connecting D.C. and Virginia.
  • The District of Columbia Courts Home Rule Act (H.R. 6187) would give D.C. authority over the jurisdiction and organization of the local D.C. courts.
  • The District of Columbia Zoning Commission Home Rule Act (H.R. 6215) would give D.C. the authority to appoint all members of the D.C. Zoning Commission.
  • The District of Columbia Board of Zoning Adjustment Home Rule Act (H.R. 6289) would give D.C. the authority to appoint all members of the Board, except when the Board is performing functions regarding an application by a foreign mission with respect to a chancery.
  • The District of Columbia Chief Financial Officer Salary Home Rule Act (H.R. 6670) would give D.C. the authority to set the salary of the CFO.
  • The District of Columbia Special Elections Home Rule Act (H.R. 6710) would give D.C. the authority to set the date of special elections.
  • The District of Columbia Public-Private Partnerships Home Rule Act (H.R. 7020) would give D.C. the authority to enter into public-private partnerships.