Several Bills Set to AdvancePublished: Wednesday, May 16, 2012
A key Senate committee is set to consider this week a bill to loosen certain Hatch Act political activities restrictions, following an earlier delay of the bill over an issue relating to policy for certain state and local government employees who also fall under the restrictions because their programs receive federal funding. For federal employees, the main provision of interest in S-2170 is to allow lesser penalties when violations are found; currently, firing is the default punishment, with a 30-day suspension the only alternative. The scheduled vote in the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee comes as the counterpart House federal workforce panel is holding hearings on the issue. The Senate panel also is set to take up S-1910, which would expand to same-sex domestic partners of federal employees and retirees many of the spousal benefits currently available, particularly in the retirement and health insurance programs.