Michael Bindner's DC Blog

In this blog, I discuss DC politics and other issues of import to local government. I have posted several essays from my book, Musings from the Christian Left, on blog entreies dated June 2004.

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Location: Alexandria, Virginia, United States

Sunday, August 15, 2010

To do list for Statehood

Robert McCartney considers prospects for statehood in today's Washington Post. This is a good analysis, mainly because it deals with the two main obstacles. Linking those obstacles is what it will take to get this issue moving. If we need prisons and our neighbors fear commuter taxes, than the solution is to work out a deal for all commuter taxes to go to Virginia and Maryland to house our felony convicts, any District mental patients transferred to these states for institutional care and for bridge work on the Potomac and Anacostia rivers (which benefit commuter traffic).

There are two other things DC must do for statehood. The first is to redraw the lines of the residual District of Columbia in HR51. Right now, it includes the entire National Capital Service Area and the military bases in DC. It should not, because there are people who live on those bases who would be entitled to vote under the 23rd Amendment and because locating that area outside the new state would forever lose the leverage of the ability to tax that income (to house our prisoners and asylees). The related task is to have the President appoint an administrator for the National Capital Service Area to work out an annual reimbursement for providing District services to that area - and to pay the District back for all those years when there was no agreement (as required by the Home Rule Act). The candidate who comes out in front on that issue will be considered a hero - and Fenty is a fool for not pursuing this issue 3 years ago (it was discussed in his transition team). Hopefully, Vincent Gray will not be deterred from raising this issue loudly.

The final thing that must happen is for Statehood advocates to get over their pathological fear of discussion retrocession. It is time to include within HR51 language giving Maryland the opportunity to support retrocession or petition for retrocession. Inserting this language defeats the Republican argument that retrocession is the solution to the District's problems. In essence, to put this language in defeats their argument by giving them what they want - consideration of retrocession. Maryland has been long opposed to any such step, so it is an easy give. We could even ask them to consider it now to get the this issue out of the way. Indeed, all of what I have suggested could be done now (with the exception of redrawing the lines of the residual District), before a statehood bill is even considered.

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