- The Washington Times - Monday, September 18, 2017

The D.C. Council finally returns to the lawmaking business this week and its first order of business is, well, the business of taxing and spending.

D.C. lawmakers are considering raising taxes to help finance the Metro system and increasing fees and taxes to tighten regulations on Airbnb and other short-term rentals.

The city’s leaders are again mistakenly basing their presumptions that when a new legislative proposal is under consideration that taxpayers and other economic sustainers should foot the bill.

Hence, foster care services, as an example. One of the first spending issues on this week’s legislative calendar is the National Center for Children and Families (NCCF) and Mayor Muriel Bowser’s intentions to award the organization a three-year contract that will cost taxpayers more than $70 million.

The council has already deemed the proposed contract an “emergency,” which means the funds could be pushed into the pipeline the end of this fiscal year on Sept. 30 and carried through the next two fiscal years without asking such pertinent questions as to why it’s an emergency, where the money is coming from, has taut oversight proven that the organization is positioned to provide the services and will the services be based on new Bowser administration policies or for services already being provided.

Taxpayers should be suspicious, considering a roundtable on the organization and the contract is scheduled for this week and the chief lawmaker who’s pushing funding for the contract is first-term Council member Brianne Nadeau, who is up for re-election in 2014 after sealing the council’s progressive majority when she won in 2014.

Of course, raising a caution flag about the contract proposal is not to disparage the NCCF. Foster care services should directly benefit foster children, not the politicians and so-called benefactors who tend to them.

The amount of the proposed NCCF “emergency” contract is nothing to sneeze at, nor is the heavy hand that lawmakers want to use to whack homeowners who lease their property to overnighters and for other short-term purposes.

The Short-Term Rental Regulation and Affordable Housing Protection Act of 2017 would unleash a slew of new regulations, licenses and taxes on Airbnbers and the like. In fact, the nickname for the measure is the “Airbnb bill.”

Yet the measure is no joke: What it effectively would do is transfer your private property to public hands and charge the property owner for that transfer.

Think of it this way: Streets and sidewalks are public property. Your vehicle is your private property. However, the District charges you an annual tax to park your vehicle in front of and near your home.

Imagine what “regulators” and “inspectors” would (and could) do with your home?

What’s more: Why does so much of what the D.C. lawmakers and the mayor want to always cost more funding?

Most of the services the city provides merely takes someone clicking on a keyboard.

I’m beginning to suspect that elected leaders don’t ask the tough questions because they do not want to know the answers — they simply want to be led by the hands of lobbyists and advocates who are keenly aware of the fact that those clueless officials are jackasses.

Mind your wallets. Lawmakers and the mayor are about to show their true character.

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]

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