TALLAHASSEE — It’s now up to Gov. Rick Scott whether to sign into law a measure that could spell the end of the Hillsborough County Civil Service Board.
The Senate on Friday passed the House bill (HB 683) on a 27-10 vote after Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, lost a procedural battle to kill the bill.
Earlier this week, she used a Senate rule allowing any senator who has objections to a local bill to hold up that legislation.
“I did nothing by trickery, just to get the record straight,” she told fellow senators. “At the end of the day, my concern is the people who work for us, the civil servants.”
The bill creates an “opt-in, opt-out” clause for the 21 county agencies covered by the board. The agencies now will be allowed to conduct human-resource services now done by the civil service board, such as recruitment and testing.
Because every constitutional officer asked for the bill, it’s possible that so many will opt out, the board won’t have enough work to do to justify its existence.
That’s fine by Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, who called the agency “cumbersome and slow.” He had used another rule to bring the bill back to the floor.
Joyner has said the board still is needed to ensure government workers continue to be hired by merit, not by which political party or leader is in power.
The organization will retain the power to review firings, demotions and other negative job actions. The school system, judiciary and municipalities continue to be exempt from using the civil service board.
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. That is why modifying the board’s powers needed action by the Legislature.