Amendments Readied for Governor’s Civil Service Restructuring

Tennessee lawmakers say they’ll file a number of changes this week to Governor Bill Haslam’s sweeping revamp of civil service rules for state employees.

Last week, Republican leaders handed out a thirty-five page rewrite to the governor’s bill to remove civil service protections from state employees.

Within hours though, lawmakers reported they had already begun making changes to that draft, in private meetings between senators and state representatives. Some of those changes will define what performance standards state workers will be held to.

Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey says he met a week ago with 120 or more state employees in his East Tennessee district – and as many as half of them favored making job decisions based on a worker’s performance, not his seniority.

“I promised the state employees association that …when we set up these performance criteria, that we’ll work closely with them, to make sure it’s understandable, that people know what is expected of them, and I think that in the end, we’ll run the state of Tennessee better.”

Ramsey says the Tennessee State Employees Association has accepted that some change to civil service is going to pass, and is cooperating in drafting amendments.

Changes to civil service rules are expected to stay in flux until a measure passes in both houses of the General Assembly

Both the House and the Senate’s State and Local Government committees. Are scheduled to take up the bill tomorrow [Tuesday].

The bill is SB 2246 Norris / HB 2384 McCormick, the governor’s “Tennessee Excellence, Accountability, and Management Act.”

The state Comptroller published a report last week criticizing the state’s civil service system: Comptoller’s Report Urges Civil Service Changes

The Comptroller works for the legislature, not the governor. But the report is information tendered to the lawmakers. It doesn’t necessarily set policy for the General Assembly.

The governor tried to deflect criticism last week for eliminating a veterans’ preference for state hiring – a point that is expected to be addressed by amendments from Democrats: Haslam” Civil Service Overhaul Guarantees Vets Interviews

The governor’s negotiations with the Tennessee State Employees Association have been on-again, off-again: Civil Service Rewrite Deferred as Govenor, Employees Talk Behind Scenes and State Employees Association Pulls Out of Talks with Governor

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