By James Wright, Special to the AFRO[email protected]

On June 19 District voters approved Initiative 77, which mandates workers earn a full minimum wage and tips by 2025, 55 percent to 45 percent. On July 10, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) and council members Brandon Todd (D-Ward 4), Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), Anita Bonds (D-At Large), Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5), Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7), and Trayon White (D-Ward 8) voiced support for {The Tipped Workers Fairness Amendment Act of 2018}, that would overturn the initiative.

Ward 8 D.C. State Board of Education member Markus Batchelor is tired of the legislative body trying to thwart the will of the people. “Time and again, the D.C. Council usurp the will of the voters overturning laws the people establish through ballot referendum,” Batchelor said on his Facebook page. “They never question the voters’ intent or intelligence when it comes to their elections, just when we use our power to pass laws them or special interests doesn’t agree with. Trust me, I know about election results I don’t like.

Ward 8 D.C. State Board of Education member Markus Batchelor is fighting the Council’s efforts to overturn Initiative 77. (Courtesy Photo)

But the will of the people doesn’t always play my song. The council should let 77 stand.”

According to the District’s Home Rule charter, residents can make a law by voting for it in a special election, as was the case on June 19. However, the Home Rule charter gives the council the power to overturn the law if the legislators feel it is in the best interest of the District to do so.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) has voiced opposition to Initiative 77, saying it will hurt small businesses and wasn’t thought out properly. With the seven council members supporting the anti-Initiative 77 bill, it has the majority needed for passage.

Anise Jenkins is the executive director of Stand Up! For Democracy, a pro-District statehood organization. Jenkins told the {AFRO} she is flabbergasted that the council wants to overturn Initiative 77. “You don’t overturn the people’s will,” she said. “This is what the U.S. Congress does when the D.C. Council passes a law that it doesn’t like and that isn’t fair. I think if the D.C. Council passes the bill to overturn Initiative 77, it will be insulting and patronizing to the people of D.C.”

Jenkins said the Initiative 77 matter reminds her of when the D.C. Council overturned an initiative in 2001 mandating term limits for the District mayor, council, and school board members.

McDuffie said he doesn’t “take any potential legislative action on Initiative 77 lightly” but has spoken to some people who are not happy with it.

“Overwhelmingly, when speaking directly with tipped workers, I have heard their concerns that Initiative 77 would do more harm than good,” the McDuffie said in a statement. “To be clear, there are issues that need to be addressed such as wage theft, harassment, and discrimination. However, allowing Initiative 77 to become law in its current form would not result in the equitable outcomes that we must ultimately achieve.”

The council is set to consider the “Tipped Workers” bill this fall when it returns from recess.