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Monday, October 14, 2013

Columbus Day, Holidays, and Federalism

Today is Columbus Day. Federalism affects the observance of holidays, as the Pew Research Center reminds us:
Columbus Day is one of the most inconsistently celebrated U.S. holidays. It’s an official federal holiday, which means federal workers would be getting the day off even if they weren’t furloughed. And because federal offices are closed, so are banks and the bond markets that trade in U.S. government debt (though the stock markets are open).
Beyond that, it’s a grab bag. According to the Council of State Governments’ comprehensive “Book of the States,” only 23 states (plus the District of Columbia) give their workers Columbus Day as a paid holiday. (Tennessee officially does so too, but chooses to celebrate the occasion on the Friday after Thanksgiving.) In Hawaii, today is Discoverers’ Day, though not an official state holiday. Since 1990, South Dakota has marked the second Monday in October as Native Americans Day, an official state holiday. In Nevada and Iowa, statutes “encourage” the governor to issue an annual Columbus Day proclamation but do not designate it a legal holiday.