ANNAPOLIS, OCT. 22 -- A Prince George's County legislator said today she intended to file "defensive" legislation aimed at toppling the District of Columbia's employe residence rule, but executives of the Maryland suburban counties most affected by the requirement said they don't want the bill.
Del. Joan B. Pitkin (D) has asked for legislation that would, in effect, keep D.C. residents from being hired for Maryland public sector jobs as long as the city maintains its residence requirements. The message would be that if the District insists that its employes reside within the District, "then we will do the same to you," Pitkin said.
She said the problem was brought to her attention by "Prince George's residents who have been forced to create the facade that they live in the District" in order to hang on to their city jobs.
She said her legislation would be a "purely defensive," reciprocal measure, and she hoped the District would drop its residence requirement and allow employes to live wherever they wanted.
The executives of the Maryland counties that border the city said they don't like Pitkin's solution. While Montgomery County Executive Sidney Kramer said through an aide that he doesn't like the city's residence requirement, he added that it was an issue for District officials to handle.
Prince George's County Executive Parris Glendening said Pitkin's proposal "nudges toward 'two wrongs make a right.' "
"I don't like the residency requirement in the District," Glendening said. "I just think it's flat wrong. But I don't think reciprocal action of that sort is the solution."
Neither county has a residence requirement for its public employes, but could not supply figures on how many District residents are included in their work forces.
The District's law requires most new employes to be city residents or to move there within 180 days, and mandates that employes who live in the city must remain. Exempt from the rule are workers hired before 1980, as well as those in a number of hard-to-fill occupations.
Mayor Marion Barry and other city officials have vigorously defended the rule, saying it guarantees that government payrolls yield city revenue and maintains a correlation between the racial composition of the city's employes and its residents.
Two days of hearings this month on the controversial D.C. rule produced a stream of employes protesting it. The complaints included the city's inability to hire some employes it needs, the high cost of housing in the city, and the crime that some said accompanied urban living.
Pitkin said that she had heard from a number of Prince George's residents with District jobs who have mailing addresses in the city or rent cheap apartments to satisfy the residence requirements. She believes that Maryland and the county are losing tax dollars from those who officially claim residence in the District.
Pitkin said her legislation was still preliminary, and neither the Prince George's nor Montgomery legislative delegations have taken a position on the proposal.