News and Analysis



This post was written by staff writer Catherine Moran.

D.C. Council members proposed various pieces legislation during their first legislative meeting of the year Tuesday, from building up the Metropolitan Police Department to full marijuana legalization.

Here are the top three proposed laws you should know.

1. Fully legalizing marijuana

At-large Council member David Grosso proposed a bill that would fully legalize marijuana in the District. While marijuana was decriminalized in D.C. and voters approved adult recreational use in 2014, Grosso’s legislation addresses past congressional intervention that prevented the city from regulating and taxing marijuana.

In June, Congress, which has jurisdiction over D.C., blocked an amendment that would have allowed the city to use funds for a legal marijuana retail market, according to Extract, a website focused on marijuana coverage.

“We know the war on drugs is and was a failure,” Grosso said, adding that it contributed to an increase in mass incarceration and is “racial in its implementation.”

Grosso said that his act is the logical next step in setting up a strong tax and regulatory system. The Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety will now work on and address the legislation.

2. Increasing law enforcement numbers

Ward 7 Council member Vincent Gray proposed a bill to increase D.C. police staffing, saying that MPD staffing is at the “lowest level in a decade.” MPD has more than 4,000 sworn and civilian members, according MPD, but Interim Police Chief Peter Newsham told Fox News in October that the number of sworn officers was slightly above 3,700.

Gray said former D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier emphasized meeting the 3,800 minimum officer threshold for several years as officer retention plagued the department.

The alumnus and former mayor said the city’s population surge requires increasing the number of sworn officers from 4,000 to 4,200, saying it was important to “increase the number of officers deployed to help neighborhoods most plagued by violent crime.”

The proposed legislation would set aside “adequate” funding in the budget for MPD, which would help to cover the cost of hiring, training and equipping officers, Gray said.

3. Access to free Wi-Fi

Ward 4 Council member Brandon Todd introduced legislation to create a taskforce that will work to provide and oversee construction for free wireless internet access in the District. Todd said free Wi-Fi will be beneficial to D.C.’s economy. People with lower incomes can miss the chance to pursue other opportunities without access to the internet, where most job applications are now hosted, he said.

“Today high-speed broadband is not a luxury – it’s a necessity,” Todd said, “The internet divide is an economic divide.”

Todd said cities like New York and Boston have increased accessibility to free Wi-Fi. New York recently added free Wi-Fi and cellphone service in the subway system, according to The New York Times.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority announced their plans to add Wi-Fi to all underground Metro stations in December.

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All Metro riders will soon be able to double-tap on Instagram and scroll through Twitter while waiting for a train underground.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority plans to bring free public Wi-Fi to all underground stations by the end of 2018, The Hill reported Tuesday.

The installation will begin in the summer of 2017 and 60 percent of stations will have Wi-Fi by the end of 2017, according to The Hill. The remaining stations will be outfitted with the service in 2018.

Paul Wiedefeld, general manager and CEO for WMATA, said in a statement that the decision for Wi-Fi updates came from “positive rider feedback” after Wi-Fi access was added at six stations – Union Station, Judiciary Square, Gallery Place, Metro Center, Archives and L’Enfant Plaza. This test program began in August, DCist reported.

WMATA has also aimed to install 200 miles of radio cables to improve emergency radio communication and wireless technology in February after calls from Congress and the Federal Transit Administration for increased safety measures.

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Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013 9:05 a.m.

Wi-Fi upgrades to total $4.2 million

Residence halls across campus will be equipped with hundreds of more powerful wireless devices by May 1. Hatchet File Photo.

The University is spending $4.2 million to add thousands more WiFi hotspots to campus by May 1.

A total of 1,915 wireless devices have been installed so far, GW’s Chief Information Officer Dave Steinour said Tuesday, with about 800 more going into residence halls by May 1.

Upgrades to City Hall, Dakota Hall, the Smith Center and the Mount Vernon Campus were completed this year, and Mitchell and Thurston Hall will see more devices by mid-February, Steinour said.

GW will add more than 3,000 of the new, more powerful devices by August in a multi-year effort to alleviate pressure on an overloaded wireless system that has seen an uptick in mobile devices.

He said at Monday’s Student Association Senate meeting that students who continue to have trouble connecting in their halls after the new technology is installed should contact the IT Support Center.

“We only know what we know. And if no one is telling us, we have no way of knowing if its problematic” he told SA senators.

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