The Civil Service Reform Debate

MacIver News Service | October 29, 2015

The Assembly voted to pass Assembly Bill 373 (AB 373), a bill to reform the state civil service, on Tuesday. The floor debate lasted several hours.

Rep. Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna), the main author and sponsor of the bill, started and ended debate.

Minority Caucus Chair Rep. Andy Jorgensen (D-Milton) followed up with a prediction that turned out to be true.

Rep. Gary Hebl (D-Sun Prairie) also invoked the image of La Follette.

Rep. Dianne Hasselbein (D-Middleton) questioned Governor Walkers’ motive and involvement.

Rep. Daniel Knodl (R-Germantown) discussed the pay raises for strong employees included in the bill, and challenged Assembly Democrats to vote against pay raises for strong workers.

Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) struck back at Democrats who said they weren’t involved in the bill’s full process. He questioned why they introduced nine amendments on the floor without letting Republicans consider them beforehand.

Rep. Mandela Barnes (D-Milwaukee) acknowledged that he liked the ban the box provision in this version of the bill. As the MacIver Institute previously reported, Rep. Steineke’s Assembly version bans the box on thats asks individuals if they have substantially related felony charge. The Senate version of the bill keeps the box, which may lead to issues down the line. Barnes said the provision actually didn’t go far enough, and said it should extend to public and private employees across the state.

Throughout the night, legislators clashed on whether or not resumes are an appropriate method of whittling down candidates.

As part of his closing argument, Rep. Steineke read from Obama administration documents which support the reform of civil service. He argued that if the President supports civil service reform, then it’s not a strictly republican issue or a power grab, as Assembly Democrats alleged throughout the night.

In the end, the bill was voted through on a 57-35 vote and will now go to the Senate.