Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett today celebrated the signing into law of Bill 46-09, which establishes a hiring preference for veterans and persons with disabilities for a vacant County merit system position if the candidate is among the highest rated candidates in a normal competitive process. (The bill signing was postponed due to last week’s snowstorm. Bill 46-09 was signed by the County Executive and returned to the County Council earlier this week.)
The new law alters an existing hiring preference for veterans, giving the same advantage to people with disabilities. It also creates a new classification -- veterans with disabilities.
“Giving preference to qualified persons with disabilities is simply the right thing to do,” said Leggett. “Helping out veterans, who have returned home and are facing financial hardship and high unemployment rates, is something I believe we all want to do. These brave men and women have given so much to their country, and this is one way for us to give back to them and to provide hope and opportunity.”
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 Council’s Management and Fiscal Policy Committee recommended amending the bill to place a veteran with a disability first in the order of hiring preference and to give a veteran without a disability and a non-veteran with a disability an equal preference. The law relies on the definition of disabled used in federal hiring programs, not the broader definition used to prevent discrimination under the Americans With Disabilities Act. The applicant must have proof of the disability, certification of job readiness, and meet all required qualifications for the position.
“With this action, Montgomery County is opening wider the door to qualified applicants with disabilities,” said Councilmember Phil Andrews (D Gaithersburg-Rockville), the measure’s chief sponsor. “This law in combination with other initiatives to hire qualified persons with disabilities will, over time, reduce the very high unemployment rate of people with disabilities, and enrich the diversity of the County government workforce.”
“This bill shows that the County appreciates the service veterans have given for our County and country, and the hardships they have endured,” said Chairman of the Commission on Veterans Affairs Bill Gray. “It will help them tremendously and ideally to start a career working for the County.”
“I applaud the County Executive and members of the County Council for their vision and commitment towards the hiring of individuals with disabilities in Montgomery County Government,” said Chair of the Commission on People with Disabilities Mark Maxin. “This bill acknowledges the extraordinary service and sacrifice of our disabled veterans. Individuals with disabilities are a largely untapped pool of talent and ability who can perform a wide range of jobs. The myths, fears, bias and stereotypes associated with these individuals can be far more limiting than the medical condition itself.”
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