Most state and local public employees will soon be able to run for political office as an update to the Hatch Act takes effect.
The Office of Personnel Management issued a final rule Monday to implement the 2012 Hatch Act Modernization Act, which will go into effect June 4. The law marked the first update to the Hatch Act -- which governs political activity for government workers -- in more than 20 years.
The change will no longer prohibit state and local employees who work in programs financed in part or in whole by federal funds from running for partisan office. Only those workers whose salaries are paid for entirely by federal grants or loans will remain banned from launching political bids.
The bill also expanded the options for penalizing federal employees who violate the law. Previously, these employees faced immediate termination.
OPM codified Washington, D.C., government employees as local city officials, rather than federal workers, and updated the list of federal agencies with tighter restrictions on political activities.
The chief of the Office of Special Counsel, the independent federal agency charged with overseeing the Hatch Act, said when the modernization bill passed it was a “victory for good government,” and predicted “local communities around the country” would benefit from the reform.