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Bill advances that targets civil service system

Published on -3/19/2013, 9:25 AM

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- Republicans on a House committee have approved a measure that cuts protections of the classified employment system for many state workers.

The measure, which now goes to the full House, would remove state attorneys, supervisors and information technology workers from the classified employment system, according to The Lawrence Journal-World (http://bit.ly/Yoc0bp ).

Under the bill, all new state hires would also be unclassified, and any current state employee who is either transferred, demoted or promoted would also no longer qualify. The bill wouldn't affect employees of public safety agencies.

The legislation was proposed by Appropriations Chairman Marc Rhoades, R-Newton, but during a public hearing on the measure no one testified in favor of it. Rhoades said he has heard that agency heads want to have more flexibility to reward and manage employees.

Appropriations Vice Chairman Gene Suellentrop, a Wichita Republican, said the bill will allow supervisors to bring in top qualified people in information technology and legal support.

Opponents of the measure, including representatives of state workers, have said the bill would mean jobs would be awarded based on politics instead of merit.

Rep. Jerry Henry of Atchison, a Democrat, said the measure warrants more study because it drastically alters the system that allows classified employees to appeal job dismissals and demotions through the Civil Service System.

"This is a pretty hasty bill," Henry said. "I'm concerned we didn't go through the proper channels."

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