D.C. Council Bill Would Exempt Drivers
From Losing Licenses for Unpaid Fines


     A bill pending before the D.C. Council would prevent courts from suspending low-income residents’ driver’s licenses because they have unpaid parking fines and traffic tickets.
     Supporters of the bill say it unfairly punishes low-income persons.
     A recent study of five states reported that more than four million people nationwide have lost their licenses for failure to pay court debts. They are heavily concentrated among the poor.
     The D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles doesn’t track the number of licenses lost for failure to pay fines. Nevertheless, the bill introduced this week calls the license suspensions “punishment for low-income District residents.”
     The bill would exempt D.C. residents earning less than $39,000 per year from losing their licenses suspended for not paying court debts. Persons receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits also would be exempt from the suspensions.
     The bill would halt license suspensions for failure to pay debts in civil actions, such as unpaid debt to a car-insurance company. Some D.C. residents convicted of driving with a suspended license could get their licenses returned.
     The bill would not exempt persons with criminal convictions or who were cited for traffic violations, such as dangerous driving.
     The bill authored by Elissa Silverman (I-At-Large) says, “In no instance will an operator’s permit or driving privileges be revoked or suspended for failure to pay a debt without a finding that the person is able to pay.”







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   The referral fees are offered to anyone in the District of Columbia but only real estate licensees in other states. However, non-real estate agents can receive credits equal to the referral fee toward the purchase or sale of property in Virginia and Maryland.
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D.C. Mayor Defies Trump Administration
In Threat to Deport Salvadoran Immigrants


By Tom Ramstack, The Legal Forum
     Washington’s mayor is voicing opposition to a Trump administration plan to deport as many as 200,000 Salvadorans in the United States who lack visas or residency permits.
     Salvadorans make up the District of Columbia’s largest immigrant community.
     Unless they get residency permits, they would have to leave the United States by next year under a Trump administration plan announced this month.
     Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement that she would support the immigrants with any legal defenses available.
     Bowser made the statement about the same time the Justice Department sent letters to 23 city and county officials accused of withholding information on illegal immigrants.

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Legal Briefs


Fairfax County Proposes
Huge Redevelopment Project

By Tom Ramstack, The Legal Forum
     Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors plans a public hearing next month on a massive redevelopment plan that could add as many as 13,000 homes to the county’s eastern edge.
     The plan also calls for office buildings, new street grids and retail in the neighborhood near George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate.
     In recent years, the stretch of Richmond Highway has been known for its run-down motels, traffic congestion, fast-food restaurants and low-rent apartments.
     Fairfax County officials hope the revitalization will generate more tax revenue to fund schools and other services.
     In addition to the real estate, county officials want to complete a $40 million levee near Cameron Run and organize service for a $500 million county bus rapid transit route.

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Book on Boston Marathon Bombs
Shows Lone Wolf Terrorism Rises

   A new book that reports on the April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and trial of the convicted killer shows the attack was only an early example of more coming soon.
   Boston's Bloody Marathon uses the bombings by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother as an example of the lone wolf terrorism increasingly encouraged by Islamic extremist groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda.
   Lone wolves refer to terrorists who plot their attacks alone, usually with no organization to support them and no official links to violent groups. There is almost no way to know their next target until they strike. U.S. intelligence agencies call them perhaps the biggest terrorist threat to the United States and its allies.
   Boston's Bloody Marathon, by Tom Ramstack, is available on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com.
Click here.

    The Legal Forum welcomes letters to the editor at tramstack@aol.com, which will be published here.

Lawsuit Seeks to Block Pipeline
Through Southwestern Virginia

     
Southwestern Virginia residents and environmentalists filed a lawsuit this week to block the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a natural gas pipeline they say would uproot homes and create safety hazards.
     The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond by the environmental group Appalachian Mountain Advocates.
     Environmentalists and residents say the pipeline would trample the property rights of landowners along the route and damage fragile ecosystems.
     Supporters, including Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, say the pipeline would create jobs and increase capacity for utilities that are struggling to serve all their residential and business customers.
     The lawsuit seeks a review of the permits issued by the State Water Control Board.
     The pipeline would run for 300 miles from West Virginia through the southwest corner of Virginia. It’s being built by a group of companies led by EQT Midstream Partners of Pittsburgh.
     Other plaintiffs who joined the lawsuit include the Sierra Club, Appalachian Voices, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and Wild Virginia.
     The lawsuit says the Water Control Board and the Department of Environmental Quality overlooked some hazards as they hurried to complete the review process.


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D.C. and Maryland Attorneys Argue
Trump Violated Constitutional Duties


By Tom Ramstack, The Legal Forum
     Attorneys for the District of Columbia and Maryland began arguments last week in federal court in Greenbelt that accuse President Donald Trump of violating his Constitutional duties through his private business with foreign countries.
     His business dealings create a conflict of interest, the attorneys said.
     Private gain, money or gifts for a president are called emoluments under Article 1 of the Constitution. The relevant clause says, "no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”
     Steven Sullivan, an attorney representing the Maryland Attorney General's Office, referred to Trump's hotels and other businesses when he said, "By accepting emoluments, the president creates a constitutionally prohibited market for presidential influence." The business dealings put "the state and the District in an intolerable dilemma, which is either pay to play" or risk that others might be paying to gain the president's favor.

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