|Senate Approves Hatch Act Parity for D.C.|
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) got two of her bills passed today in the Senate, the District of Columbia Hatch Act Reform Act and the Hatch Act National Capital Region Parity Act, eliminating barriers to full equality and self-government for D.C. residents. The bills were included in the Hatch Act Modernization Act of 2012 (S. 2170), sponsored by Senators Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Mike Lee (R-UT), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and Carl Levin (D-MI), which passed the Senate by unanimous consent.
The D.C. Hatch Act Reform Act removes the District from the federal Hatch Act and allows the city’s public employees to be governed by a local Hatch Act, enacted by the D.C. Council in anticipation of Norton’s bill. Norton got the D.C. Hatch Act Reform Act through the House last Congress, citing the District’s status as the only local jurisdiction under the federal Hatch Act. She showed how the application of the federal Hatch Act to local D.C. officials and employees has produced inconsistent results and confused federal authorities, who are often unfamiliar with local circumstances.
The Hatch Act National Capital Region Parity Act allows the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to grant exemptions to federal employees who reside in the District from the Hatch Act’s prohibition on federal employees running in local partisan elections. In the 1940s, Congress gave OPM the authority to exempt federal employees in towns in Maryland, Virginia, and the immediate vicinity of D.C. from the prohibition, so that towns with large numbers of federal employees would not be deprived of having a large percentage of their residents participate in local affairs. OPM was not given the authority to exempt federal employees living in D.C. because the city did not have local elections before the Home Rule Act of 1973.
“The Hatch Act Modernization Act brings the District one step closer to equal treatment and self-government,” Norton said. “I am grateful to the Senate for passing the bill, and especially grateful to Senators Joseph Lieberman and Susan Collins (R-ME), Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Subcommittee Chairman Daniel Akaka for their efforts to ensure that D.C. is treated the same as other local jurisdictions under the Hatch Act and that federal employees living in D.C. are afforded the same treatment under the Hatch Act as others in the region.”