Legislation aimed at limiting the number of government employees holding political jobs cleared its first hurdle Wednesday, the Senate Government Operations Committee.
The bill, the brainchild of Senate President Vargrave Richards, would require the governor to determine which positions are exempt and submit that list to the Legislature for approval.
The measure also repeals a provision of the law that allows employees who serve in an unclassified or exempt position for at least two years to apply for a permanent position in the classified service.
Organized labor warmly embraced the bill, noting that governors have used the exempt service to hand out jobs to political supporters, often at higher salaries than their counterparts in the merit system. Many of those political appointees wind up being permanent government employees.
Speaking for the administration, Personnel Director Joanne Barry said that "titles and parameters of unclassified or exempt positions must be clearly identified."
If the measure becomes law, Barry said Gov. Charles W. Turnbull will have to submit a list of all current position titles considered exempt to the Senate within 90 days.
Barry said allowing the reclassification of exempt workers "has long been a thorn in the side of organized labor" because it permits an employee to retain the higher unclassified salary while creating a disparity in the salary of employees performing similar duties.
The bill now goes to the Rules Committee.
In other action, the committee tabled indefinitely a measure that called for a constitutional convention to be held in December.