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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: September 25, 2017 08:55 AM
From: Representative Ed Neilson
To: All House members
Subject: Expanding Authorized Political Activities for Certain First-Class City Employees
In the near future, I will be introducing legislation proposing to expand the scope of authorized political activities for certain first-class city employees.

In 2012, Congress passed the Hatch Act Modernization Act, which now allows most state and local government employees to run for partisan political office. However, the First Class City Government Law of 1919 restricts active Philadelphia city employees from engaging in certain political activities on their own time, including but not limited to seeking publicly-elected office (Currently, city employees are required to resign from their positions prior to engaging in any of the aforementioned political activities). Many of my constituents who are Philadelphia city employees, most notably the policemen and firemen in my district, have expressed a great deal of frustration at the notion that they are restricted from being more civically-engaged while simultaneously maintaining employment with the city.

While I recognize that the purpose of placing restrictions on the political activities of city employees is meant to prevent possible conflicts of interests that may arise between an employee’s prescribed job duties and their political obligations, I believe that we are vastly underestimating our city employees’ ability to effectively compartmentalize the two spheres. In an effort to address this matter, my legislation proposes to do the following:
  • Authorize active first-class city employees to run for publicly-elected office upon seeking the approval of their employer, and establishes factors for city employers to consider when approving or denying a request of a city employee seeking to run for an elected office; and
  • Designate and authorize the Office of the Philadelphia City Commissioners to hear and adjudge all appeals filed by city employees that have been denied approval to run for publicly-elected office by their employers.

Many of our city employees possess an accurate pulse of the communities that they so dutifully serve. I find it to be very disheartening and unfair that these same public servants are forced to choose between resigning from their city employers and actively pursuing a path that may enable them to maximize the positive impact that they have within our communities.

Therefore, if you wish to foster a greater degree of civic participation in our democracy, I urge you to please sign on as a co-sponsor of this very meaningful legislation.