Against the backdrop of the coronavirus and cancelled events all across the country as well as ‘social distancing’ and business hardships resulting from the pandemic, the DC city council is advancing an ordinance that mandates additional benefits for employees in firms with 20 or more workers.. The Transportation Benefits Equity Act, proposed by councilmembers Charles Allen and Mary Cheh, would apply to DC employers with 20 or more workers who receive subsidized parking benefits and would allow those employees to trade in that benefit for cash or public transportation while putting the difference in cost in their pocket. Currently, a 2016 DC law requires employers with 20 or more workers to give workers a commuting benefit of up to $270/month for parking or $270/month for public transit as a pre-tax deduction or let employees deduct that amount from their pre-tax salary. Much to the dismay of elected officials, employers sometimes offer free parking and don’t offer free transit as an option. The amended proposal (B23-148), which was unanimously approved in its first vote on March 3, offers employers the “Hobson’s Choice” of stopping the subsidized parking benefit or be required to pay a “Clean Air Compliance Fee” of $100 per month per employee. To avoid the “Clean Air Compliance Fee” requirement, an employer could also choose to increase their contribution to the employee’s health care coverage. In organized crime circles that’s extortion – in DC, it’s called good government! The bill will have a second and final vote by April 7 at the latest.