|D.C. Special Election Bill to Senate Floor After Committee Passage|
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) announced today that her District of Columbia Special Election Reform Act (H.R. 3902) passed the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs this morning. The bill passed in the House earlier this year.
A similar Norton bill passed in the House last Congress, but an anonymous hold in the Senate kept it from becoming law. As a result, the District must now spend an additional $360,000 for a special election to fill the vacant seat once held by former Ward 5 Council member Harry Thomas. Norton said she believes it will be easier to get this non-controversial bill through the Senate this Congress because anonymous holds are banned there and the hold proved needlessly costly to the District. The bill would give the city flexibility in setting the dates for local special elections. Current law requires the city to hold special elections on the first Tuesday 114 days after a vacancy is declared. Norton, at the request of D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and the D.C. Council, introduced the measure to provide the city a window between 70 and 174 days to schedule a special election. The council does not have the authority to make the change under the District’s charter.
The scheduled markup of the Hatch Act Modernization Act of 2012 (S. 2170), of which Norton’s D.C. Hatch Act Reform Act bill is a part, which would remove the District from the federal Hatch Act, and treat it like any other state or local government, was delayed to address a non-D.C. issue. “I very much appreciate that both Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) expressed support for removing the District from the federal Hatch Act, even though the underlying bill was held over for further work,” Norton said. The Hatch Act Reform Act passed the House and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last Congress, but an anonymous hold in the Senate prevented its enactment.
Published: April 25, 2012