- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Debate of a controversial bill to reform the city’s taxicab industry dominated Tuesday’s final legislative session before D.C. Council members begin their two-month summer recess.

The taxicab bill, which passed the council, will impose various new regulations on taxi drivers. It expands payment options to include credit card readers, institutes GPS tracking for cabs shuttling passengers, expands the number of handicapped-accessible cabs and establishes a uniform color scheme for new cabs.

The bill was vehemently opposed by the taxicab industry, and drivers protested at city hall during the meeting.

Council members approved a controversial proposal to place high-definition digital signs on the Verizon Center. The legislation was passed on an emergency basis so owners of the Gallery Place arena will be able to apply for permits and complete the signage by October, when the seasons begin for the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals.

Opponents had said the signage would be unsightly and detract from the views of historic downtown buildings.

The council also passed a bill opposed by AAA Mid-Atlantic that will make vehicle owners responsible for fines from automated enforcement cameras. The city in the past allowed vehicle owners to challenge tickets on the basis that they were not operating the vehicles at the time of the infraction.

Lawmakers approved the renomination of Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi to another five-year term and approved the nomination of former Attorney General Robert J. Spagnoletti to the city’s ethics board.

Two bills were introduced to look into burying power lines after June’s derecho storm, which left thousands in the District without electricity.

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson also introduced a bill that would allow the city’s attorney general to dispose of unregistered guns or ammunition offenses committed by residents of another state.

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