Councilmember Phil Andrews (D-Dist 3) wants to reduce disproportionate unemployment among people with disabilities in Montgomery County.
This week he urged fellow Council members to place on the November ballot a Charter amendment that would create a "special hiring authority" to recruit and hire people with significant physical or cognitive disabilities to county jobs.
“In order to help reduce the high unemployment and underemployment rate for people with disabilities, Montgomery County has taken a number of important steps to expand opportunities and be a model employer. Now, we have to take this next step,” Andrews said in a statement.
Currently, among internal candidates, veterans and people with disabilities who are among the highest rated group of applicants are given preference for county jobs. There is also a two-year intern project for people with significant cognitive and developmental disabilities within the health and human services department.
Andrews wants to ask voters to change to the current merit system—the county’s tool for recruiting and developing a workforce—this election. He said the inflexibility of the system prevents the county from hiring qualified people with significant disabilities for certain positions.
The Council’s office of legislative oversight recommended such a change in a 2008 report that offered four ideas for how to hire people with disabilities. One of the ideas was to “explicitly discuss and decide whether to pursue a Charter Amendment to enable the county government to establish a special hiring authority within the merit system for hiring persons with disabilities.”
The Charter Review Commission, a bi-partisan group appointed to study the County Charter, did not recommend amending the charter in 2009. Last year, a new commission was appointed and they are not indicating that they will make a recommendation to amend the charter either, according to a release from the Council’s legislative office.
County Executive Isiah Leggett announced that he will also urge the Council to put a charter amendment on the November ballot.
A public hearing on a potential charter amendment is scheduled for June 28 at 7:30 p.m. in the County Council building in Rockville.