DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA REPUBLICAN COMMITTEE
The District of Columbia Republican Committee (“DCRC”) is pleased to make our recommendations for the 2012 National Republican Platform. Our intention is to inform the debate within the party by expressing our conservative views for consideration.
The District of Columbia is a diverse and vital community that possesses many intellectual, cultural, and economic assets. We face many of the same challenges as other major urban areas of our nation. But the District is the only purely urban entity represented at the Republican National Convention and can thus serve as a model and testing ground for the deployment of innovative conservative policies in an urban setting.
Because of its special place in our Republic as our Nation’s Capital, coupled with required Congressional oversight, many actions of the federal government directly affect the District’s citizens. Local District issues also often require significant federal engagement, most notably the issue of voting representation in Congress, our most pressing concern.
We urge the consideration and incorporation of our conservative principles and policies. Most importantly, on behalf of the District’s Republicans that we represent before the national party, we request that the 2012 National Republican Platform include our preferred language with regard to the governance of the District of Columbia.2
The Republican Party believes in pushing government power down to the level closest to the people. The District Home Rule Charter, passed by a Democratic Congress and signed into law by a Republican President, was designed to provide local autonomy to the people of the District consistent with Article I, Section 8, Clause 17 of the Constitution, which gives the Congress “exclusive legislation” over the federal capital. But the District has no voting representation in Congress. Congress and the District government engage in continuing disputes over their respective powers and responsibilities, and ultimately, over the political future of the District.
We must align ourselves with District voters. The DCRC cannot grow if our party is hostile or indifferent to the aspirations of most District citizens for voting rights equal to those of other citizens of the United States. Accordingly, we recommend the following:
- Enact a law giving the District voting representation in the House of Representatives, paired with an additional seat for the next state in line after the 2010 census, North Carolina, where a Republican legislature currently controls redistricting.
- Enact Home Rule Charter Amendments giving the District autonomy to budget and spend its own revenues without going through the Congressional appropriations process; enabling the District to enact local legislation without Congressional review; and eliminating the Home Rule Charter prohibition on taxing non-resident income.
- Amend the recently-passed Home Rule Charter amendment that provides for an elected, partisan District Attorney General and replace it with a non-partisan election.
- Amend the Hatch Act so that District employees are treated like state and local employees – and not federal employees – so that they would be permitted to run for non-partisan offices; all District-elected officials should be exempt from prohibitions on seeking partisan office.
- Pending full voting rights in Congress and full local autonomy equivalent to that enjoyed by citizens of the several states, exempt District residents from federal income taxes.
The aforementioned represent our core principles with regard to the governance of the District. Since the DCRC represents the District’s Republicans before the national party, we respectfully and strongly request that you include the following language verbatim in the 2012 Republican National Platform:
We respect the design of the Framers of the Constitution that gave our Nation’s Capital a unique status entailing special oversight and financial responsibilities for the federal government. However, this status should not preclude the historic tradition of the Republican Party since its founding in 1854 in support of voting representation in Congress and home rule for citizens residing in the District of Columbia.
We urge Congress to enact legislation proposed by Republicans that would provide the District of Columbia local government budget autonomy; increased local legislative authority; Home Rule Charter amendments that increase the accountability of the local government; and exemption from federal income taxation until District citizens are granted voting rights in Congress and local autonomy.
The landmark Republican-supported school choice movement has been successful and should be strengthened despite objections of Democrats and labor unions. 3
Accordingly, the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program should be expanded and the DC Tuition Assistance Program should be continued.
We urge the Council of the District of Columbia to pursue legislation that honors Second Amendment rights and is consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller.4
We, the Republicans of the District of Columbia:
I. Economy, Jobs, and Taxation
- Urge fiscal restraint and oppose all tax increases not matched by greater spending cuts.
- Support lower taxes to encourage economic growth, including revising the federal tax code to be flatter and fairer so that rates can be brought down for individuals, families, and business.
- Reduce payroll taxes and move toward consumption taxes on goods or services, applying taxpayer funds to the jurisdiction where raised.
- Acknowledge the substantial body of economic research that demonstrates that raising the minimum wage is an ineffective way to reduce poverty rates and also decreases employment for the least-skilled workers; eliminate the District’s minimum wage differential.
- Concentrate on strengthening the Earned Income Tax Credit, which evidence shows reduces poverty and boosts employment, instead of further increasing the federal minimum wage.
- Promote innovation-based economic development policies that leverage citizen creativity and technology to expand workforce participation in the 21st Century information economy, thereby creating clean, safe, high-wage jobs, and including public-private partnerships participating in regional economic development initiatives.
- Encourage technology companies to locate in under-served, urban jurisdictions through the provision of workforce development programs, affordable facilities, and financial incentives.
- Enact tax incentives for small businesses willing to relocate to economically struggling communities and reduce the impact of commercial real estate taxes on small businesses.
- Maintain the current federal Enterprise Zone for parts of the District.
- Reduce the excessive regulatory burden on small business by streamlining the process to open or expand a small business.
- Eliminate or ease burdensome occupational licensing requirements, which would boost job growth and lower operational costs for state and local government licensing agencies.
- Support reforms that ensure that all students have access to a 21st Century education in order to promote our nation’s economic growth.
- Expand the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program
- Reauthorize and fund the DC Tuition Assistance Program.
- Encourage providing elementary and secondary students and parents with choices in education, particularly by making public and charter school funds portable so that no student finds herself stuck in a low-performing school; and adopting open enrollment policies to eliminate caps on charter and digital schools.
- Acknowledge the successes of effective charter and digital schools that are integral to the modernization of our education system and promote their growth; innovative models of elementary and secondary educational delivery should be encouraged that emphasize skill attainment rather than seat time.
- Strengthen elementary and secondary schools supported with public funds by emphasizing transparency and responsibility rather than federally-mandated interventions; attracting and rewarding the best teachers based on effectiveness in raising student achievement; enhancing local accountability for rigorous academic standards, skill attainment, and teacher performance; and eliminating unnecessary certification requirements, such as the federal “highly qualified teacher” requirement.
- Put the needs of students before the special interests of unions when approaching elementary and secondary education reform.
- Streamline duplicative and complex postsecondary educational programs and eliminate overly complicated and unnecessary regulation to provide postsecondary students better access at a lower cost to the taxpayer; encourage innovative models of educational delivery at the postsecondary level that emphasize skill attainment rather than seat time.
- Reverse the nationalization of the student loan market and embrace the participation of private sector institutions and banks in postsecondary education.
- Deploy 21st Century workforce development and job training programs, including apprenticeships, to broaden employment options for all Americans.
- Recognize the importance of small and medium businesses to the growth of our economy by teaching entrepreneurial and vocational skills in schools that meet the needs of our communities.
- Enhance financial and economic literacy in primary, secondary, and postsecondary education.
III. Energy and Environment
- Embrace the use of North American’s abundant natural resources so that we can move toward energy independence by opening national lands to oil and natural gas extraction; promptly issuing permits for deep water drilling; promoting the use of innovative technologies to transform our plentiful coal supply into clean fuel; and bringing the vast, untapped potential of wind, solar, as well as currents and tidal energy to market.
- Safely build nuclear power plants to take advantage of one of the most reliable and cleanest energy sources.
- Conduct research and development of alternative energy sources but pivot to a market- and demand-based model to deploy new technologies.
- Encourage public awareness programs for greater conservation and efficiency measures to reduce energy consumption.
- Reduce the size of the federal government vehicle fleet and promote the use of compact and fuel-efficient cars when feasible.
- Consolidate office space in under-utilized federal buildings, close unused federal buildings, and sell unused federal land, and use the funds generated to pay the federal debt.
- Provide incentives for the redevelopment of “brownfield” land, abandoned or underutilized due to environmental contamination.
- Encourage sustainable building and zone code revisions that do not discourage business and residential expansion.
IV. Family and Marriage
- Support the belief that all individuals, without regard to sexual orientation, are entitled to full and equal protection under the laws and the Constitution and that everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
- Because there are various views in our Party on right to life/choice, the DCRC does not support any language in the platform on this issue.
- Make adoption easier by providing prospective parents with legal and financial resources for the adoption process, including enhancing interstate adoption opportunities; provide appropriate resources and oversight in order to allow for safer and stronger foster care.
V. Health and Human Services
- Enhance individual options for affordable healthcare by allowing its purchase across state lines and by making insurance portable for the individual without regard to employment, which is especially important for those who tend to move in and out of the workforce for child and eldercare responsibilities; promote flexible programs geared toward small business insurance options and those directed at vulnerable population groups to ensure that all citizens have access to affordable healthcare.
- Support health care reform efforts that provide adequate incentives for innovations that lower costs and improve the quality of care for patients.
- Support principles of tort reform and limit awards in cases of medical malpractice, with certain exceptions.
- Ease and expedite licensing requirements for health clinics.
- Support the freedom of faith-based institutions in the provision of healthcare services.
- Reduce licensing regulations for independent and alternative health care clinics and providers.
- Recognize the adverse public health and safety implications of drug addiction, particularly on our youth, and provide alternate opportunities for substance abuse programs that empower individuals to choose the certified drug treatment option that best meets individual needs.
- Implement and advance programs that substitute treatment for incarceration, as appropriate.
- Support a comprehensive, strategic plan to combat HIV-AIDS given that the number of HIV-AIDS cases in the District qualifies as an epidemic under the World Health Organization definition.
- Strengthen prevention and treatment of HIV-AIDS in our communities by encouraging streamlined approaches to coordination among private and public entities, data collection and dissemination, and development of accountable programming.
VI. Homeland Security, Public Safety, and Emergency Preparedness
- Consistent with the Constitution as interpreted by the federal courts, law-abiding adults should be allowed to keep and bear arms, subject to reasonable restrictions in the interest of public safety that may be imposed by the states, the District, and the territories.
- Improve the judicial system to deal with crime in a more efficient and even-handed manner.
- Recognize the public safety benefit in helping men and women returning from incarceration by supporting programs that transition and address the collateral impact of incarceration.
- Enhance emergency preparedness at the individual, family, and community level through education, training, and practice programs.
- Create effective policies to ensure the safety of students and teachers in all schools.
- Require effective and coordinated emergency preparedness plans and resources to address critical events, including the efficient coordination of federal, state, and local government agencies.
- Ensure the readiness of local governments and hospitals to respond effectively to major public health emergencies through planning, resource availability, and practice training.
- Establish federal tax incentives to provide affordable housing opportunities for key sectors of the workforce so that they can live with their families in the communities in which they work.
- Encourage state and local low-income housing efforts by promoting the development of affordable housing to maintain economic diversity.
- Promote federal, state, and local incentives for individuals and families to relocate to urban areas.
- Improve home ownership opportunities for public housing residents by converting existing rent or tenant payments into long-term purchase payments.
- Reduce regulations and permit requirements that inhibit property owners from renting or developing their property.
- Continue to maximize the value of investments in public transportation by encouraging the development of projects in the areas around metro and rail stations.
- Equalize federal tax treatment among various forms of commuting.
- Support passage of a national highway bill that would ensure the return of local funds collected to improve and expand transportation infrastructure.
- Work with affected jurisdictions to establish a permanent funding source for their shares of the cost of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and streamline the agency’s operations to promote transparency and good governance.
- Contribute guidance and support to extend Metrorail to Tysons Corner and Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia; endorse the elimination of the preference for union labor on this project.
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Thank you for considering our perspectives. We wholeheartedly congratulate our presumptive 2012 nominee, Governor Mitt Romney. We look forward to supporting his campaign so that we will be able to welcome him to the District on Inauguration Day in January.