The state Assembly is set to take up legislation today that makes a number of changes to Wisconsin’s civil service system, including making it easier to hire and fire state workers.
Assembly Republican Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna), a sponsor of the proposal, says the changes are about making the state “more nimble” and able to respond faster to the changing job market, as the state faces a large wave of retirements in the coming years. The bill would eliminate the civil service exam currently required for state applicants, while standardizing the process for eliminating workers who violate state workplace policies.
The Kaukauna Republican says it will also speed up the hiring process, which can often take months. “Good candidates are not going to wait around four, five, or even six months to hear back from the state,” he argues.
Democrats argue the changes could actually hurt hiring for state agencies, and increase the risk that politics will influence those decisions. Steineke maintains the bill does nothing to change current state laws that ban the use of political affiliations to hire or promote people in the state workforce. “That will continue to be the law after this passes,” he says.
A similar bill is still making its way through the state Senate, although that version does not include a provision that bars state agencies from asking employees about their criminal history. Instead, the Senate bill leaves that decision up to each agency. Steineke believes the so-called “ban the box” provision is important so the state can give qualified candidates a fair shot at a position, and the Assembly plans to move ahead with the bill with that language included.