|Three Norton Bills Advancing D.C.’s Home Rule Rights Signed into Law by President Obama|
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) announced that three important Norton bills that advance home rule in the District of Columbia have been signed into law by the President, the D.C. Hatch Act Reform Act, the Hatch Act National Capital Region Parity Act, and her D.C. Courts and Public Defender Service Act, giving D.C. equality under the Hatch Act after Norton’s 21-year fight.
The two local Hatch Act bills Norton sponsored were included in the larger federal Hatch Act Modernization Act of 2012, which passed the Senate in November and passed the House by voice vote earlier this month. The D.C. Hatch Act Reform Act requires that D.C. government employees to be treated the same as other local state and government employees under the Hatch Act. D.C. government employees will now be regulated by a local Hatch Act, which has already been enacted by the D.C. Council.
The National Capital Region Parity Act allows federal employees in D.C. to run for partisan offices as independents, as regional federal employees have long been able to do. Under the new law, Norton will request that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) provide equal treatment for the city’s federal employees by exempting them from the federal Hatch Act’s prohibition on federal employees running in partisan elections, as OPM has already exempted federal employees in 64 towns in Maryland, Virginia and the immediate vicinity of the District.
Norton’s D.C. Courts and Public Defender Service act passed the Senate in July, where it was sponsored by Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and passed the House by voice vote earlier this month, after Norton asked Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) to expedite the bill’s path to the House floor. Most important, The D.C. Courts and Public Defender Service Act authorizes the delay of court proceedings, without penalty, in the event of a natural disaster, terrorist attack, or other emergency. It also allows judicial conferences to be held biennially or annually, an authority already granted to Federal courts that will save funds. The law will also clear the way for the federally funded Public Defender Service for the District to purchase professional liability insurance for its attorneys, staff, and board members.
“We appreciate the President quickly signing into law our D.C. Hatch Act Reform Act, National Capital Region Parity Act, and D.C. Courts and Public Defender Service Act,” Norton said. “These three bills are common-sense legislation that come at no cost to the taxpayer, but bring the District another step closer to the self-government and equal treatment D.C. seeks in all areas of American life,” Norton said. “We are grateful to Senators Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), and Susan Collins (R-ME) for their leadership on getting these bills through the Senate, and to Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) for their role in moving these three bills through the House.”
Published: December 31, 2012