New D.C. Laws: Living Wage, Leaf Blower Ban, Plastic Utensils


From the Office of the Mayor: D.C. residents are reminded of several new laws going into effect on January 1, 2022.

Living Wage

In accordance with the Fair Shot Minimum Wage Amendment of 2016, the living wage in the District of Columbia will increase to $15.50 on January 1, 2022. On July 1, 2022, the District’s minimum wage will increase to $16.10, triggering an increase to the living wage for non-tipped workers to the same rate. The minimum wage for tipped workers will increase to $5.35 on July 1, 2022. This increase is due to provisions of the amendment that tie D.C.’s minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index.

Gasoline-Powered Leaf Blowers

As of January 1, 2022, gasoline-powered leaf blowers are no longer permitted to be used in the District. Gasoline-powered leaf blowers are a source of noise and air pollution and can be easily replaced with efficient electric-powered leaf blowers. The District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Utility provides both commercial entities and residents with rebates for the purchase of an electric leaf blower. 

Small Disposable Food Service Items

To keep our rivers cleaner, and reduce waste, effective January 1, 2022, all District restaurants, and food-serving entities are prohibited from automatically including small disposable food service items (including but not limited to plastic utensils). Restaurants and food-serving entities will be required to keep any small disposable items either behind the counter to give to customers who request them or in a self-service area for customers to take on their own. The new requirements apply to in-person, online, and mobile orders. There will be a grace period of 6 months, with no fines, to allow for training staff, updating operating software, and other aspects to make the transition.

Battery Recycling Programs

Pursuant to the Zero Waste Omnibus Amendment Act of 2020, beginning on January 1, 2022, no producer will be allowed to dispose of batteries in the District except through battery recycling programs. Beginning in 2023, the battery recycling requirement will apply to all residents and businesses. 

Proper Source Separation Training

The District will begin providing training on proper source separation and waste reduction for janitorial staff and property managers at private collection properties, including District facilities and agencies, multifamily properties, and commercial properties. This training coincides with the new requirement for waste collectors to bring source-separated glass to specified collection points so it can be transferred to a glass recycling facility.  

Strategic Energy Management Plan

District buildings will become more energy efficient as we roll-out a strategic energy management plan for reducing energy and water use across the District government’s portfolio of buildings. The plan will include timelines for implementing an energy retrofit program prioritizing buildings that have core systems and equipment nearing the end of their useful lives, with a goal of achieving at least 30-percent, reductions in energy and greenhouse gas emissions and a net-zero energy retrofit program for many other buildings within the District government’s portfolio between 2026 and 2032.

Electric Vehicle Make-Ready Parking Spaces

Electric Vehicle Make-Ready Parking Spaces will be required to receive a building permit in all new construction or substantial improvement of commercial buildings and multi-unit buildings that have 3 or more automobile off-road parking spaces. The infrastructure will be required to be sufficient to accommodate the future installation of an electric vehicle charging site at least 20 percent of the parking spaces.

Coverage for Prescription Insulin Drugs

Finally, a new provision protecting residents with diabetes from sky-rocketing costs becomes effective. Beginning January 1, 2022, a health insurer that provides coverage for prescription insulin drugs must limit the total amount that an insured is required to pay for a 30-day supply of covered prescription insulin drugs at an amount not to exceed $30, regardless of the quantity or type of covered prescription insulin drug used to fill the insured’s prescription. And, a health insurer that provides coverage for diabetes devices and diabetic ketoacidosis devices must limit the total amount that an insured is required to pay for a 30-day supply of all medically necessary covered diabetes devices and diabetic ketoacidosis devices that are in accordance with the insured’s diabetes treatment plan at an amount not to exceed $100.

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