At a “Full Democracy Breakfast” celebrating the 154th anniversary of D.C. Emancipation Day—when Abe Lincoln freed some 3,100 slaves in the District—Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that residents could see a statehood initiative on the November 2016 ballot, following legislation to be filed to the D.C. Council.

It’s unclear whether such a measure would ultimately pass (Republican-dominated) congressional muster. After D.C. voters overwhelmingly approved Initiative 71, which legalized the use and growth of cannabis in small amounts, in 2014, Congress passed a rider that significantly limited the city’s ability to regulate bud.

Still, D.C. statehood—like a minimum-wage increase—is immensely popular among local voters. In a poll conducted by the Washington Post last year, roughly seven out of 10 residents said they favored statehood for the District’s more than 670,000 people. The District doesn’t have a single voting member in Congress.

Bowser’s announcement comes as her administration seems to be stepping up its push for District equality. It also follows a historic development in March, when a judge ruled in support of budget autonomy, such that Congress will henceforth passively approve the District’s submitted budget, unless it takes action. The mayor appeared on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show to discuss D.C. autonomy on Thursday night.

Update 2:15 p.m. D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton praised Bowser’s announcement in a statement, but appeared to acknowledge that, in itself, a ballot referendum would likely not lead to District statehood.

“The effort should be judged not by whether it achieves statehood, but whether it brings much-needed energy to our push to become the 51st state,” Norton explained. “The most difficult challenge for the District’s statehood movement is overcoming congressional obstruction of the kind that was not there for other states. On a far more frequent basis, Congress must feel or see the pressure from residents.”

Photo by Darrow Montgomery