Yesterday’s council vote on the gay marriage bill was after what’s known as the first reading of the bill, and it’s only the first of two necessary before the matter goes to the mayor for a signature. The Post and others have specifically mentioned that, to their credit.
However they keep flubbing one minor point: while the rules require that the second reading happen no sooner than 14 days later, that’s contingent on their being a meeting then. According to Michael Battle, legislative assistant to Phil Mendelson, the laws have to pass at a legislative meeting and the regularly scheduled one isn’t till the new year. “Traditionally,” Battle said, “the Council has an additional meeting in December. It has not yet been decided if there will be an additional meeting in December. You would need to check back at the end of next week to be certain.”
The end of week he’s referring to is presumably because that’s when the DC Register is published. According to the council rules for period 18[pdf], “15 days notice by publication in the District of Columbia Register is required prior to” holding a legislative meeting. That’s not necessary in the case of emergency legislation or for enacting internal council rules, but that doesn’t apply here.
If the council publishes notice of a special legislative session on this Friday the 4th, the soonest they should hold a legislative meeting and do the second reading of the gay marriage bill is on Monday the 21st. However there’s a loophole big enough to drive a truck through in this clause: “Less than 15 days notice of intended action or for a hearing on a bill or resolution may be given upon good cause found and published with the notice.”
It’s possible – and likely – that another session will be held before the new year. At that time they could give a second reading to this bill. However there’s not currently a legislative meeting scheduled for the 15th, and in fact there’s a committee of the whole meeting with its own agenda going on that day. So these repeated statements that there’s going to be a vote “in 15 days” is premature.