In case you hadn’t heard, the D.C. City Council passed a fitness tax on Wednesday night targeting gyms and yoga studios. You probably didn’t hear about it and the tax’s proponent D.C. City Council Chairman Phil Mendolson doesn’t give a shit:
Asked if giving the public just 18 hours notice between the [gym tax] proposal and its vote, Mendelson argued that the [fitness tax] has been public since it was included in a set of Tax Revision Commission recommendations released in December.
“The burden is on the public to pay attention to what we’re doing,” Mendelson told a gym owner who confronted him in the council chamber.
Anyway, I’m not sure what can be done now that the Council has already voted but I encourage all D.C. residents to contact their Councilmembers (for their district and each of the at-large members) and ask that the fitness tax be repealed before it goes into effect. Here’s the letter I sent my Councilmembers:
Dear Semi-Esteemed D.C. City Councilmembers:
First, let me say that I don’t typically write my elected officials. Not because I have no concerns on issues of the day. Quite the contrary. The reason I hardly write is because I know the person reading such correspondence already works too damn hard for too little money to deal with my petty concerns. I work in politics and government — I know a thing or two about government correspondence and understand you need another email like you need another hole in your head.
That being said, I am writing to you today since you represent either my home district or are at-large members of the D.C. City Council. I strongly oppose the fitness tax passed by the Council on Wednesday. Fitness clubs are a critical sector of the city’s economy. They create jobs, generate tax revenue, and serve as vibrant community gathering spots. In addition, they are forces for healthy living. At a time when obesity remains a major public health risk, there is little public good to be gained from making health and fitness even more expensive. In case you weren’t aware, the cost of living in D.C. is soaring. Why make it any harder on those of us already struggling to get by, pay our taxes, and live a healthy life?
Do you really think First Lady Michelle Obama would say, “You know, when I launched the ‘Let’s Move’ initiative, I never considered we could fund our government on the backs of people trying to live healthier lives. What a great idea!”
What’s next? A tax on health foods? Joggers? Bicyclists? Women who wear athletic sneakers to and from work but nicer dress shoes while in the office? Is the goal of the Council to get their constituents as sedentary, lethargic, and plump as possible so that we can no longer build up the energy to attend Council meetings in person let alone raise our increasingly fat fingers to our keyboards in order to type angry emails to D.C.’s public officials?
I urge you to reconsider and repeal the fitness tax before it goes into effect. Let’s keep D.C. focused on continuing to become a more healthy and active city. After all, our sidewalks just won’t be wide enough for tourists and locals if we’re all clinically obese.
City, State Zip
P.S. I’m what most would consider “fat,” “round,” “husky,” “pudgy,” “big,” or “large.” Don’t make it harder for me to get healthy. Do the right thing.