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D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) said former Mayor Anthony Williams caved to pressure from business lobby groups with his last-minute veto of Barry’s bill to create a protected class for ex-convicts under the D.C. Human Rights Act. The bill, approved 10-2 last month, would have prohibited employment, housing, and educational discrimination against ex-convicts, with some exceptions. It was geared to aid the 60,000 ex-convicts living in the District. “I was very critical of the fear-mongering and hysteria created by the Mayor’s Office and some of the lobbying groups,” said Barry, an ex-convict himself, at the Jan. 9 Council meeting. Williams’ veto letter stated the bill was unprecedented in the U.S in its breadth and “presents an unacceptable public safety risk” that could unnecessarily trigger lawsuits against employers who denied jobs to ex-cons. The letter mirrored concerns raised by the D.C. Chamber of Commerce and hotel and hospital groups that lobbied for the veto. Barry realized last week he didn’t have the votes to override the veto but said he will reintroduce the bill this week.
Brendan Smith can be contacted at [email protected].

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