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Bill seeks changes for state workers

Bill seeks changes for state workers

Measure would modify job classifications, offer managers more flexibility

February 15th, 2018 by Joe Gamm in News
In this Jan. 13, 2016 file photo, State Rep. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City is seen on the floor of the Missouri House chamber.

A state legislator continues to shepherd his bills intended to raise wages and equalize positions for state employees through the General Assembly.

Rep. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City, waited through about three hours of hearings Tuesday night before the House General Laws Committee could consider House Bill 1795.

The bill modifies provisions of the state personnel law, and essentially groups workers with similar levels of responsibilities into equal pay ranges.

It also allows for "stepless" pay ranges. Generally, steps reflect how long an employee has been employed.

The bill also provides for interpreters or readers, should deaf or blind applicants need them during examinations.

Several years ago, the state did a Missouri employees pay study, Bernskoetter told the committee.

"In addition to recommending that we raise the salaries for state employees, they also recommended that we change personnel law," Bernskoetter said.

The bill expands requirements for public notice when a job class is opened for recruitment. If an employee's position is changed, that person must possess "minimum qualifications for the class to which his or her position has been reallocated," according to the bill.

The bill allows someone who takes an examination to be given electronic notice of whether he or she is eligible for that particular job.

Directors of agencies may require examinations for some job classes. Those examinations may include promotional examinations.

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The state may give a "veterans preference" for unranked positions. That preference can be extended to veterans, surviving spouses of veterans, disabled veterans or spouses of disabled veterans. The preference means if all other job-related factors are equal, those qualified shall be listed first.

In this way, the bill removes existing language in reference to appointment and examination of veterans or their family members.

Bernskoetter would like to leave flexibility in the budget to allow for employee incentives, he said.

Sarah Steelman, the state commissioner of the Office of Administration, said there is widespread support for the bill.

"It allows for a lot more flexibility for managers, supervisors and directors all across state government," Steelman said. "It allows us to hire the people that are best-qualified. It allows us to recruit a little better."

The bill would help administrators to run Missouri government better, she said.