Click on the download links available here to obtain legal forms for the District of Columbia.
Article One, Section Eight of the United States Constitution grants the U.S. Congress “exclusive jurisdiction” over the city. The District did not have an elected municipal government until the passage of the 1973 Home Rule Act. The Act devolved certain Congressional powers to a local government administered by an elected mayor, currently Vincent C. Gray, and the thirteen-member Council of the District of Columbia. However, Congress retains the right to review and overturn laws created by the council and intervene in local affairs.
Each of the city’s eight wards elects a single member of the council and four at-large members represent the District as a whole. The council chair is also elected at-large. There are 37 Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) elected by small neighborhood districts. ANCs traditionally wield a great deal of influence and the city government routinely takes their suggestions into careful consideration.
Residents of the District of Columbia have no voting representation in Congress. They are represented in the House of Representatives by a non-voting delegate, currently Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C. At-Large), who may sit on committees, participate in debate, and introduce legislation, but cannot vote on the House floor. The District has no representation in the United States Senate. Unlike residents of U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico or Guam, which also have non-voting delegates, D.C. residents are subject to all U.S. federal taxes. In the financial year 2007, D.C. residents and businesses paid $20.4 billion in federal taxes; more than the taxes collected from 19 states and the highest federal taxes per capita.
A 2005 poll found that 78% of Americans did not know that residents of the District of Columbia have less representation in Congress than residents of the 50 states. Efforts to raise awareness about the issue have included campaigns by grassroots organizations as well as featuring the city’s unofficial motto, “Taxation Without Representation”, on D.C. vehicle license plates. There is evidence of nationwide approval for DC voting rights; various polls indicate that 61 to 82% of Americans believe that D.C. should have voting representation in Congress. Despite public support, attempts to grant the District voting representation, including the D.C. statehood movement and the proposed District of Columbia Voting Rights Amendment, have been unsuccessful.