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Public Statements

Hatch Modernization Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. CLAY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise in support of S. 2170, the Hatch Act Modernization Act. This needed bill is based on recommendations from the head of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, Carolyn Lerner. This legislation was introduced by Senator Daniel Akaka, along with the ranking member of the Oversight Committee, Elijah Cummings. This bill will make three key reforms:

The first reform will allow State and local government workers to run for political office. The Hatch Act prohibits any of these employees from running in a partisan political election if their jobs involve Federal funding. This creates problems for many government workers who are otherwise well qualified to run for local office.

For example, Mr. Jon Greiner had to be fired as police chief of Ogden, Utah, because he ran for a State senate seat and won. Ms. Kristin DiCenso, an Illinois State employee, was prevented from running for court clerk. In response to this barrier, she said, ``I was utterly deflated. It's insanity.''

The second reform would institute a less severe range of penalties for Hatch Act violations. Current law requires employees who violate the Hatch Act to be terminated unless the Merit Systems Protection Board unanimously votes for a lesser penalty. Jon Adler, the president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, testified that this penalty system is draconian.

The third reform made by this bill is to treat District of Columbia employees like State and local government employees under the Hatch Act.

This is a commonsense change.

In closing, I support the Hatch Act Modernization Act, and I hope that every Member of the House will support this bill so that it can become law.

Mr. Speaker, I ask that we pass the underlying bill, and I reserve the balance of my time.

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