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Grantland fighting for state job

By Staff
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
State Representative Ronald Grantland of Hartselle has filed an appeal with the Federal Employee Protection Board in an attempt to save his job with the State Department of Public Health.
A Democrat representing District 9, Grantland filed the appeal last week after being ordered by a federal judge to either give up his job as Area II administrator for the State Health Department or resign from his elected office. He will be allowed to remain on his job at least until the appeals board issues its ruling.
Grantland, who is serving in his second term as a member of the House of Representatives, said he will retire from his job with the Health Department before giving up his seat in the Legislature. He was re-elected in 2002.
"I have been employed by the Health Department for 33 years and the status of my employment was never questioned until about two years ago," Grantland pointed out. "I could have gone ahead and retired, but I have always been taught that if you feel strongly that you are right on a given issue you ought to stand up for yourself. That's why I decided to file the appeal.
"We've got federal judges telling us what to do. I don't think that's right. I'm going to stand up for the people of my district and myself," he added.
Grantland said federal funds received by the State Health Department go through Montgomery.
"As an area administrator, I have no direct connection with their disbursement," he pointed out."
According to the court order, unless the Health Department terminates Grantland, its federal funding will be cut by an amount equal to Grantland's salary for two years.
The Hatch Act, a law that prohibits federal employees from engaging in partisan elections, is in the center of Grantland's dilemma. According to the court, the law applies to Grantland because his employer receives federal funding.
Grantland said he is not the only legislator who works for agencies that receive federal funding.
"Why aren't they being singled out, too?" he asked.
The Hatch Act was passed in 1939 and pertained only to employees of the federal government. It was amended the next year to include employees of state agencies subject to federal funding. Its purpose was to prevent elected officials from expending federal funds as a means of securing votes.