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    Arent Fox Helps Advance Home Rule in the District of Columbia

    Currently, the District of Columbia is the only city in the United States that must submit its own locally-raised budget to Congress for approval as part of the often-delayed congressional appropriations process.  This hampers the DC Government’s ability to operate efficiently and serve its residents, who pay $6 billion in local taxes.  Working with pro bono clients DC Vote and DC Appleseed, Arent Fox attorneys Jon Bouker and Aaron Brand developed an innovative legal theory for how the District can amend its Charter through the District’s referendum process to give itself the authority to enact its local budget without having to wait for congressional approval.  In December 2012, the DC Council unanimously approved legislation authorizing a referendum based on this proposal, and the Mayor subsequently signed the bill into law.  The proposed referendum will be on the ballot during a special election on April 23, 2013.  If approved, it will be the most significant advance in DC Home Rule in 40 years.