D.C. Law 22-200. Rental Housing Commission Independence Clarification Amendment Act of 2018.

D.C. Law 22-200. Rental Housing Commission Independence Clarification Amendment Act of 2018.

AN ACT

To amend the Rental Housing Act of 1985 to clarify the independent status of the Rental Housing Commission; and to amend the District of Columbia Government Comprehensive Merit Personnel Act of 1978 to give the Rental Housing Commission independent personnel authority, and to make the Chairperson and members of the Rental Housing Commission statutory officeholders in the Excepted Service.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, That this act may be cited as the "Rental Housing Commission Independence Clarification Amendment Act of 2018".

Sec. 2. The Rental Housing Act of 1985, effective July 17, 1985 (D.C. Law 6-10; D.C. Official Code § 42-3501.01 et seq.), is amended as follows:

Amend § 42-3501.03

(a) Section 103 (D.C. Official Code § 42-3501.03) is amended by adding a new paragraph (16A) to read as follows:

"(16A) "Independent agency" means any board or commission of the District of Columbia government not subject to the administrative control of the Mayor.".

(b) Section 201 (D.C. Official Code § 42-3502.01) is amended as follows:

(1) Subsection (a) is amended to read as follows:

Amend § 42-3502.01

"(a) The Rental Housing Commission is established as an independent agency within the executive branch of the District government.".

Amend § 42-3502.01

(2) A new subsection (a-1) is added to read as follows:

"(a-1)(1) The Rental Housing Commission shall be composed of 2 regular members and a Chairperson, all of whom shall be appointed by the Mayor with the advice and consent of the Council in accordance with section 2(e) of the Confirmation Act of 1978, effective March 3, 1979 (D.C. Law 2-142; D.C. Official Code § 1-523.01(e)); provided, that the Mayor may designate a member appointed before the effective date of the Rental Housing Commission Independence Clarification Amendment Act of 2018, passed on 2nd reading on October 2, 2018 (Enrolled version of Bill 22-640), to serve as Chairperson until the Mayor appoints a Chairperson with the advice and consent of the Council.

"(2) The first members appointed after July 1, 2010, shall serve the following terms:

"(A) One member's term shall expire July 18, 2012.

"(B) One member's term shall expire July 18, 2013.

"(C) One member's term shall expire July 18, 2014.

"(3) Upon the expiration of members' terms pursuant to paragraph (2) of this subsection, members shall serve 3-year terms; provided, that all terms have the same anniversary date.".

Amend § 42-3502.01

(3) Subsection (b) is amended to read as follows:

"(b) Each nominee to the Rental Housing Commission shall possess the following qualifications and, if appointed, maintain such qualifications for the duration of the member's term; provided, that paragraphs (5) and (6) of this subsection may not be used to disqualify any member appointed before the effective date of the Rental Housing Commission Independence Clarification Amendment Act of 2018, passed on 2nd reading on October 2, 2018 (Enrolled version of Bill 22-640):

"(1) Be admitted to practice law before the District of Columbia Court of Appeals;

"(2) Be a resident of the District within 180 days of taking office;

"(3) Be neither a housing provider nor a tenant;

"(4) Possess skills and experience relevant to the following:

"(A) Litigation, preferably including both appellate practice demonstrated by written work product and exposure to the concerns of pro se litigants;

"(B) Administrative law, preferably in an area of complex regulation; or

"(C) Housing law, preferably in the area of rental housing and rent control or rent stabilization;

"(5) Have at least 5 years of experience in the practice of law; and

"(6) Possess judicial temperament and other expertise, experience, and skills necessary and desirable for a member of the Rental Housing Commission.".

Amend § 42-3502.01

(4) Subsection (b-1) is repealed.

Amend § 42-3502.01

(5) A new subsection (b-2) is added to read as follows:

"(b-2) Each member of the Rental Housing Commission shall:

"(1) Take an oath of office, as required by law, before the commencement of duties;

"(2) Be accountable and responsible for the fair, impartial, effective, and efficient disposition of cases before the Rental Housing Commission;

"(3) Refrain from conduct inconsistent with the duties and responsibilities of a member of the Rental Housing Commission;

"(4) Devote full-time to the duties of the Rental Housing Commission;

"(5) Not perform any duty, including engaging in the practice of law, that is inconsistent with the duties and responsibilities of a member of the Rental Housing Commission;

"(6) Not be responsible to, or subject to the supervision or direction of, an officer, employee, attorney, or agent engaged in the performance of investigative, prosecutorial, or advisory functions for another District agency; and

"(7) Conform to all legally applicable standards of conduct.".

Amend § 42-3502.01

(6) Subsection (c) is amended to read as follows:

"(c) Members of the Rental Housing Commission shall be appointed as administrative judges in the Excepted Service.".

Amend § 42-3502.01

(7) Subsection (e) is amended to read as follows:

"(e)(1) The Mayor may remove a member of the Rental Housing Commission only for good cause.

"(2) The Mayor shall provide the Council with written justification of the removal by the effective date of the removal.".

New § 42-3502.01a

(c) A new section 201a is added to read as follows:

"Sec. 201a. Powers and duties of the Chairperson of the Rental Housing Commission.

"The Rental Housing Commission shall be headed by a Chairperson who shall be accountable and responsible for the fairness, impartiality, effectiveness, and efficiency of the Rental Housing Commission.

"(1) The Chairperson shall:

"(A) Be the administrative head and personnel authority for the Rental Housing Commission;

"(B) Develop and implement a code of professional responsibility for members of the Rental Housing Commission;

"(C) Monitor the quality of administrative adjudication;

"(D) Issue and implement procedures, practices, and guidelines relating to the operations or responsibilities of the Rental Housing Commission;

"(E) Issue and transmit to the Mayor and the Council an annual report, not later than 90 days after the close of the first complete fiscal year of the Commission's operation as an independent agency, and each fiscal year thereafter, on the operations of the Rental Housing Commission; and

"(F) Establish necessary or desirable standards and specialized training programs for members of the Rental Housing Commission;

"(2) The Chairperson may:

"(A) Provide for, or require completion of, continuing education programs for members of the Rental Housing Commission and other employees of the Rental Housing Commission considered to be necessary or desirable;

"(B) Appoint, in accordance with applicable law and available funding, promote, discipline, and remove staff employed by the Rental Housing Commission, other than members of the Rental Housing Commission;

"(C) Develop and maintain a program for student interns and law clerks to gain experience at the Rental Housing Commission; and

"(D) Exercise any other lawful authority to effectuate the purposes of this act.".

(d) Section 202 (D.C. Official Code § 42-3502.02) is amended as follows:

Amend § 42-3502.02

(1) Subsection (a) is amended as follows:

(A) Paragraph (1) is amended by striking the word "Issue" and inserting the phrase "Possess sole authority to issue" in its place.

(B) Paragraph (2) is amended by striking the phrase "Rent Administrator" and inserting the phrase "Rent Administrator or the Office of Administrative Hearings" in its place.

Amend § 42-3502.02

(2) Subsection (d) is amended by striking the phrase "The Department of Housing and Community Development shall employ the staff necessary to assist the Commission in carrying out its functions." and inserting the phrase "The Rental Housing Commission shall employ the staff necessary to carry out its functions." in its place.

Amend § 42-3502.02

(3) A new subsection (e) is added to read as follows:

"(e) All documents filed in any case before the Rental Housing Commission shall be available to the public for review, consistent with the Freedom of Information Act of 1976, effective March 25, 1977 (D.C. Law 1-96; D.C. Official Code § 2-531 et seq.).".

(e) A new section 202b is added to read as follows:

New § 42-3502.02b

"Sec. 202b. Independence of the Rental Housing Commission; transfer provisions.

"(a)(1) Nothing in this act may be construed as granting the Department of Housing and Community Development or any other agency of the District government power or authority over the Rental Housing Commission's powers, duties, or personnel.

"(2) For as long as the Rental Housing Commission's budget is captured by a program code within the Department of Housing and Community Development, the Rental Housing Commission shall have exclusive authority to administer the Rental Housing Commission's budget, subject to compliance with District law;

"(b)(1) Within 30 days after the applicability date of this subsection, all positions, property, records, and unexpended balances of appropriations, allocations, assessments, and other funds available or to be made available to the Rental Housing Commission, while captured as a program code within the Department of Housing and Community Development, relating to the duties and functions assigned to the Rental Housing Commission pursuant to sections 201 through 202a, shall be transferred to the Rental Housing Commission.

"(2) All rules, orders, obligations, determinations, grants, contracts, licenses, and agreements of the Department of Housing and Community Development relating to functions transferred to the Rental Housing Commission pursuant to the Rental Housing Commission Independence Clarification Amendment Act of 2018 , passed on 2nd reading on October 2, 2018 (Enrolled version of Bill 22-0640), shall remain in effect according to their terms until lawfully amended, repealed, or modified.

"(c) The Mayor shall provide funding for the Rental Housing Commission in the annual budget request to the Council as a separate agency code.".

Sec. 3. The District of Columbia Government Comprehensive Merit Personnel Act of 1978, effective March 3, 1979 (D.C. Law 2-139; D.C. Official Code § 1-601.01 et seq.), is amended as follows:

Amend § 1-603.01

(a) Section 301(13) (D.C. Official Code § 1-603.01(13)) is amended by striking the phrase "and the Office of Employee Appeals" and inserting the phrase "the Office of Employee Appeals, and the Rental Housing Commission" in its place.

Amend § 1-604.06

(b) Section 406(b) (D.C. Official Code § 1-604.06(b)) is amended as follows:

(1) Paragraph (22) is amended by striking the period each time it appears and inserting a semicolon in its place.

(2) The second paragraph (23), added by section 1033(c)(3) of the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Support Act of 2015, effective October 22, 2015 (D.C. Law 21-36; 62 DCR 10905), is redesignated as paragraph (24).

(3) Paragraph (25) is amended by striking the phrase "; and" and inserting a semicolon in its place.

(4) The second paragraph (25), added by section 202(c) of the District of Columbia State Athletics Consolidation Act of 2016, effective April 7, 2017 (D.C. Law 21-263; 64 DCR 2110), is amended as follows:

(A) Redesignate the paragraph as paragraph (26).

(B) Strike the period and insert the phrase "; and" in its place.

(5) A new paragraph (27) is added to read as follows:

"(27) For employees of the Rental Housing Commission, the personnel authority is the Chairperson of the Rental Housing Commission.".

Amend § 1-609.08

(c) Section 908 (D.C. Official Code § 1-609.08) is amended as follows:

(1) Paragraph (16) is amended by striking the phrase "; and" and inserting a semicolon in its place.

(2) Paragraph (17) is amended by striking the period and inserting the phrase "; and" in its place.

(3) A new paragraph (18) is added to read as follows:

"(18) The Chairperson and members of the Rental Housing Commission.".

Sec. 4. Applicability.

(a) Sections 2(b)(1), 2(d)(2), amendatory section 202b(c)-(d) contained within section 2(e), and section 3(a) shall apply upon the date of inclusion of their fiscal effects in an approved budget and financial plan.

(b) The Chief Financial Officer shall certify the date of the inclusion of a section's fiscal effect in an approved budget and financial plan, and provide notice to the Budget Director of the Council of the certification.

(c)(1) The Budget Director shall cause the notice of the certification to be published in the District of Columbia Register.

(2) The date of publication of the notice of the certification shall not affect the applicability of this act.

Sec. 5. Fiscal impact statement.

The Council adopts the fiscal impact statement in the committee report as the fiscal impact statement required by section 4a of the General Legislative Procedures Act of 1975, approved October 16, 2006 (120 Stat. 2038; D.C. Official Code § 1-301.47a).

Sec. 6. Effective date.

This act shall take effect following approval by the Mayor (or in the event of veto by the Mayor, action by the Council to override the veto), a 30-day period of congressional review as provided in section 602(c)(1) of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, approved December 24, 1973 (87 Stat. 813; D.C. Official Code § 1-206.02(c)(1)), and publication in the District of Columbia Register.