A Real Plan for DC Voting Rights and Home Rule
Did You Know?
When the US Constitution was adopted in 1787, what is now the District of Columbia was a part of the state of Maryland. In 1791, Washington was ceded to the federal government for the purpose of becoming the nation’s capital city. District residents continued to vote in Maryland’s federal elections and even run for and win Maryland congressional seats.
In 1801, Congress passed a bill that had the effect of ending the right of DC residents to vote in Maryland’s elections. Since Congress took away by statute our right to be represented in Congress by Maryland’s federal legislators, Congress can similarly restore that right by statute. To that end, the Committee for the Capital City worked closely with Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) to reestablish this right. He introduced a bill in Congress (HR 299 – The District of Columbia Voting Rights Restoration Act of 2013) to restore the DC federal voting rights that Congress took away in 1801.
Under this approach, DC residents would be represented in the US Senate by Maryland’s two Senators and be represented by a congressperson whose district would be essentially similar to the current DC district but apportioned as part of the Maryland delegation.
In addition to supporting voting rights in Congress for DC residents equal to that of all other Americans, the Committee for the Capital City also recognizes that DC residents need to have home rule so that the laws that they must live under are the responsibility of locally elected officials. The best way to accomplish this goal is to reestablish the city of Washington as a unique, home-rule city in the State of Maryland. This approach maintains the unique character of Washington as the city that is home to the national government. Washington would continue with its present boundaries and elected officials.
With the renewed status of being a part of the State of Maryland instead of a federal enclave under the exclusive legislative control of Congress, the citizens of Washington would gain by our calculation four new representatives in the Maryland State Senate and twelve new members in the Maryland House of Delegates. Washington voters would also gain the representation of the Maryland Governor and other statewide officials. As a part of Maryland, DC residents could expect lower state income tax rates and a more efficient local government that would have the potential to deliver better local services though a combination of economies of scale and additional government resources to draw upon.
The State of Maryland would similarly benefit under our plan by gaining an additional congressional district and electoral vote as well as the pride and prestige of becoming the home state in the eyes of the world to the capital city of the United States of America. With the city of Washington becoming the twenty-fifth local jurisdiction in Maryland, Maryland gains 600,000 new residents who would by their addition make Maryland richer, more highly educated, and more Democratic.