Montgomery Council Unanimously Approves Bill Establishing Hiring Preference
For People With Disabilities
County Bill 46-09 Creates What Is Believed to Be The 1st Local Legislation of Its Kind in U.S.
ROCKVILLE, Md., February 2, 2010—The Montgomery County Council today unanimously approved Bill 46-09 establishing a “hiring preference” for the initial appointment of a person with a disability to a vacant County merit system position if the candidate is among the highest rated candidates in a normal competitive process. Councilmember Phil Andrews is the chief sponsor of the legislation, which is believed to be the first local legislation of its type in the U.S.
Councilmember Vice President Valerie Ervin and Councilmembers Roger Berliner, Nancy Navarro and Duchy Trachtenberg are co-sponsors of the bill. The Council pursued action on the issue following release of a report on the practices of the County government’s hiring of persons with disabilities by the Office of Legislative Oversight (OLO).
Research by County Council staff has shown that Montana has statewide legislation similar to Montgomery’s Bill 46-09, but has not identified any other local legislation that would provide hiring preferences for persons with disabilities.
“By any measure, the unemployment rate of people with disabilities far exceeds the unemployment rate of people without disabilities,” said Councilmember Andrews. “To help address this, Montgomery County has taken an historic step and sent a strong clear message to people with disabilities: If you can do the job, we want to hire you.”
Bill 46-09 requires the County Executive to adopt regulations establishing and maintaining a hiring preference for certain qualified persons with disabilities who apply for an initial appointment to a County merit system position. The preference applies to a person who is among the highest rating category in a normal competitive process.
“The Montgomery County Council should be applauded for their vision and commitment toward the hiring of individuals with disabilities in the Montgomery County government,” said Mark Maxin, chairman of the Montgomery County Commission on People with Disabilities. “The bill passed today acknowledges the extraordinary service and sacrifice of our disabled veterans; that individuals with disabilities are a largely untapped pool of talent and ability that can perform a wide range of jobs, with or without reasonable accommodations; that the myths, fears, bias’ and stereotypes associated with persons with disabilities can be far more limiting than the medical condition itself; and that such prejudice has served as a barrier to their employment. Accordingly, this bill provides a hiring preference to those individuals with disabilities, as defined in the bill, who compete for a job in Montgomery County government and, because of their excellent abilities and qualifications, are amongst the best-qualified applicants. This bill reminds us that each individual with a disability should be judged, not by their mental or physical impairment, but by their talent and ability to achieve. Next stop is getting ‘Schedule A’ hiring flexibilities for people with disabilities seeking employment in Montgomery County government, like those in the federal government.
OLO’s report “Hiring Persons with Disabilities: A Review of County Government Practices” was released in 2008. The Council’s Management and Fiscal Policy Committee, which is chaired by Councilmember Trachtenberg, recommended 3-0 to establish the hiring preference. The committee also recommended amending the bill to place a veteran with a disability first in the order of preference and to give a veteran without a disability and a non-veteran with a disability an equal preference.
“Since the 1980’s, the County’s Commission on People with Disabilities was advocating for greater employment of people with disabilities,” said Kermit Mohn, who chaired the commission fro 1991-94. “I am happy to see that in my lifetime, this hiring preference is one giant step forward in righting the past, and still current, very high unemployment rate of disabled vets and people with disabilities.”
The County’s Office of Management and Budget said the bill will have little fiscal impact on the County.