TALLAHASSEE — The House resoundingly passed a bill late Friday that would likely gut the Hillsborough County Civil Service Board.
The measure (HB 683) was approved 105-3, with all Democratic and Republican lawmakers from Hillsborough voting for the bill.
State Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, told fellow lawmakers that County Clerk Pat Frank “came to me and begged me for this bill to move forward.”
The Civil Service Board acts as a shared-services organization, processing about 115,000 job applications and filling 1,300 jobs a year.
The Legislature created the board in the 1950s, part of a nationwide movement to protect government workers after new politicians take office.
But critics, including Frank, have said the agency’s complex job classifications prevent supervisors from giving workers new duties or raising their pay above a certain grade without permission from the board.
The bill, sponsored by Dana Young, R-Tampa, creates an “opt-in, opt-out” for the 21 county agencies covered by the board. That would allow them to conduct human-resource services now done for them by the board, such as recruitment and testing.
The board would retain the power to review firings, demotions and other negative job actions. The school system, judiciary and municipalities would continue to be exempt.
Young, the House deputy Republican leader, said all government bodies under the board – including the county commission, sheriff’s office and aviation authority – asked her to file the bill.
Dane Petersen, the civil service board’s director, defended his organization at a committee hearing in March.
“The civil service system is not broken,” he said. “In fact, it’s a model of efficient and effective government ... it enhances fairness and transparency for county employees and citizens.”
Friday’s vote sends the bill to the Senate.
The ‘no’ votes on Friday were Mia Jones, the House’s Democratic leader pro tem from Jacksonville, Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee, and Dwayne Taylor, D-Daytona Beach.