Following a June 19, 2018 vote by District of Columbia residents to pass Initiative 77, which would provide a single minimum wage for all employees including tipped workers, the D.C. Council has voted to overturn the voter-approved Initiative.
On October 2, 2018, the D.C. Council voted 8 to 5 to approve legislation that would repeal Initiative 77. The action to repeal was led by Chairman of the Council Phil Mendelson, who stated that “if the law is a bad law, it should be amended or repealed. It does not matter if the law was adopted by the council, the voters or Congress”. Also voting in favor of the repeal legislation was Anita Bonds (D-At Large), David Grosso (I-At Large), Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), Brandon T. Todd (D-Ward 4), Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5), Vincent C. Gray (D-Ward 7) and Trayon White Sr. (D-Ward 8).
Councilmember Elissa Silverman attempted to introduce a compromise amendment which would exempt servers and bartenders from Initiative 77, while still including other tipped workers such as hotel bellhops and bar-backs. This amendment was ultimately unsuccessful, although the Council did introduce parts of it into the repeal legislation, including a tip line to report wage-theft violations, and mandates for restaurant owners and managers to complete sexual harassment training annually.
This is the fifth time in D.C. history where the Council has overturned a voter-approved ballot measure.
A mandatory second vote on the repeal legislation will take place later this month. Pending that vote, the Council is also considering emergency legislation which would delay Initiative 77 from taking effect until March. The repeal bill will also need to go to Congress for a review period and to Mayor Muriel Bowser for approval. Mayor Bowser has already expressed her support for the repeal bill.