D.C. Cuts Taxes, Toughens Synthetic Drug Sale Penalties

The D.C. Council voted Tuesday to cut taxes for many residents and to approve emergency legislation allowing the police chief to temporarily shut down businesses caught selling synthetic drugs.

Income taxes will be cut for middle-class and wealthier residents starting in September. Mayor Muriel Bowser was pushing to delay the tax cuts until next year, and six of the 13 council members voted Tuesday to do that. But Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said there was no reason to delay the cuts and no specific plan to spend the savings from that move.

D.C. Council also unanimously approved legislation to combat a spike in overdoses linked to synthetic drugs. The substances can be found at gas stations and liquor stores in packaging officials say is designed to appeal to young people.

The emergency bill allows Police Chief Cathy Lanier to order a business found to be selling the drugs to be shut down for four days. Businesses will be fined $10,000 for a first offense and could lose their business licenses if they're caught again.

Lanier has said the current penalties for selling synthetic drugs amount to "a slap on the wrist." She believes the tougher sanctions will serve as a deterrent.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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