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Lawmakers Pushing To Reform Hatch Act

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Lawmakers in the region are pushing to reform the Hatch Act.
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Lawmakers in the region are pushing to reform the Hatch Act.

Lawmakers in the region are pushing to reform the Hatch Act, which bans federal workers and District employees from partisan activities. Lawmakers are debating whether to loosen those restrictions and lighten the penalties for employees who are caught breaking the law.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) opposes the current version of the bill. She says she doesn't mind exemptions for public employees who get part of their salary funded by the government. But, she says, "If your salary is 100 percent paid for by federal funds, you're really no different from a federal employee whose salary is 100 percent federally funded."

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) says government workers currently face getting fired for infractions that non-government workers are involved in daily, and he says the Hatch Act needed to be changed a long time ago. Cumming is pushing for reforms in the House.

It's been nearly two decades since the Hatch Act was last updated in 1993, and lawmakers argue social media needs to be taken into account when lawmakers rewrite the law. A hearing is scheduled on the House version on May 16.

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E-Cigarettes and Vaping

Last week, the D.C. Council voted to designate e-cigarettes and "similar vapor products containing nicotine" as tobacco products. That means that their sales tax will jump from the regular 5.75% sales tax to the 70% tax that's tacked onto sales of products like cigarettes and cigars. We explore what this means for the evolving public health debate surrounding e-cigarettes.

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