Good Government

Councilmember Cheh has introduced and enacted over 25 laws that improve the operation and efficiency of District government. While the chair of the Committee on Government Operations, Councilmember Cheh achieved the biggest transformation of the District’s merit personnel system in decades.

District of Columbia Government Comprehensive Merit Personnel Amendment Act

The overall goal of the legislation is to make the government of the District of Columbia more accountable and transparent to its residents.

  • The first law since home rule to effectively tackle nepotism, lax vetting procedures, excessive salaries, lack of transparency, and inconsistency within the executive branch of D.C. government
  • Subjects mayoral appointees to a criminal credit check
  • Limits mayoral appointees
  • Outlaws salaries above the maximum annualized rate

Omnibus Election Reform Act

  • Amended the District of Columbia election code to allow for the pre-registration of persons sixteen years of age or older
  • Created same-day voter registration in D.C. and provides for early voting
  • Incorporated the department of youth rehabilitative services into the National Voter Registration Act
  • Simplified the out of state voting process
  • Allowed for the emergency extension of voting centers
  • Required training for polling place workers
  • Established the Election Advisory Committee to assist the Board of Elections with the goal is to incorporate youth into the political process and to ensure that a resident’s exorcising of his or her most basic right to vote is as painless as possible

National Popular Vote Interstate Agreement Act

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is an agreement among eight U.S. states, including California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, and Washington, indicating that they are in favor of replacing the current electoral college with a nationwide popular vote guaranteeing the election of the presidential candidate who has earned the votes of the majority of individuals across all 50 states and Washington D.C. On December 7th 2010, the District of Columbia joined these eight states in supporting this change with Councilmember Cheh’s leadership.

This legislation seeks to mend the inequalities among individual voters during election seasons caused by the Electoral College. Due to the winner-take-all approach toward state delegates, more money, time, and attention are given to a handful of “swing states” making the votes of those residing in “politically stable” states less valuable because the system deems them less important. The National Popular Vote Interstate Agreement Act of 2010 supports the switch from the Electoral College to a national popular vote to eliminate the institutionalized inequality of votes during elections.

Anti-Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) Act

SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) is a lawsuit meant to censor critics, protestors, and adversaries by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their cause due to lack of funds. Due to the frequency and success of SLAPPs over the past two decades against grassroots organizations, this law provides a special monitor for the quick dismissal of such lawsuits to protect against the potential infringement on freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.

Corrupt Election Practices Amendment Act

Due to allegations of inappropriate campaign behavior in the past, Councilmember Cheh introduced this act to amend the District of Columbia’s election code from 1955 to prohibit corrupt election practices such as:

  • paying individuals to register and vote
  • falsifying residency, registration applications, and ballots
  • conspiracy to commit such actions

The Corrupt Election Practices Amendment Act of 2010 protects the integrity of District elections, and mirrors the federal law regarding election fraud by applying such prohibitions to the district.

Department of Forensics Sciences Act

Prior to the enactment of the Department of Forensics Sciences Act of 2011, forensic laboratories working with DNA evidence, breath-alcohol equipment, and general forensic information operated under the guise of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). This hierarchy ran the risk of unfair bias and influence within the science and law enforcement community.

As of August 17th, 2011, Councilmember Cheh’s bill created the Department of Forensic Sciences, a subordinate agency under the executive branch of the District of Columbia government. All personnel, equipment, and responsibilities regarding forensic science services have been transferred from the Metropolitan Police Department to the Department of Forensic Sciences. As the forensics community is motivated by the search for a resolution, without independence from the MPD, it could potentially face pressures to provide an answer and sacrifice appropriate methodology. The creation of an independent Department of Forensic Science works to eliminate such cases.

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Mary M. Cheh @marycheh 20 Jan A packed local library is great sign for all of us
Mary M. Cheh @marycheh 20 Jan A federal shutdown can’t stop #Ward3 or @dcpl! Happy to cut the ribbon this morning on the Palisades Library with…