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Civil Service Reform: The Best Shall Serve the State
Wisconsin created its civil service system in 1905 with the
slogan, “the best shall serve the state.” The reason for
creating a civil service system was to protect the taxpayers
from cronyism and political pressures, regardless of who
controlled state government. For years, the civil service system
has achieved this goal.
After 100 years, there have been some updates to the law. The
legislature is currently considering updates to the civil
service system to continue to serve citizens by creating uniform
standards across agencies for its employees. As a member of the
Senate Committee on Labor and Government Reform, I participated
in a hearing about Senate Bill (SB) 285 earlier this week. SB
285 was introduced by Senator Roger Roth. It is my understanding
that this bill was designed with significant input from many
After participating in the hearing and studying the bill, SB 285
seeks to improve the hiring process, create a structure in which
agencies may reward positive job performance and standardizes
the disciplinary process throughout state government. Following
is more detail on each of these proposed changes. Continuing to
recruit and retain high-quality employees to provide taxpayers
with the best service possible should be a top priority of the
However, it is very important to clarify that the proposal does
not eliminate civil service protections or repeal the civil
service system for state government employees. It is also
important to emphasize that protections are still in place to
prevent discrimination against a potential candidate on the
basis of political preference or beliefs, to prevent cronyism.
There are also statutes that require selection criteria to be
job-related according to merit and fitness. I want to ensure
that the best possible employees serve the taxpayers in this
state. This proposal utilizes best practices in both the private
and public sectors as a guide for reform. These reforms are
common sense updates to a 100-year old system while ensuring
that the original goal of the civil service system and
protections for civil service employees remains intact.
Again, following is more detail on each of the proposed changes:
The Hiring Process
Currently, agencies can take months to make a hiring decision
and often miss out on exemplary candidates who have accepted
other positions outside state government due to an unnecessarily
long hiring process, including an antiquated civil service exam.
The civil service exam does not necessarily point to the best
candidate for the job. During one agency’s hiring process, a
short-order cook made it to the round of interviews for a
position auditing financial institutions. He had no financial
experience or an auditing background.
Creates 60 day hiring goal across all agencies
Requires an open, competitive process to fill vacancies
Replaces antiquated civil service exam with a resume-based
Under the current system, there is no requirement for annual
employee evaluations and it varies from agency to agency how
often they are conducted.. There is also no uniform requirement
for agencies to keep and maintain employee disciplinary records.
Requires annual employee evaluation
Creates a fund for merit pay to reward outstanding employees
Creates a uniform probationary period for employees across
state agencies at two years, with an option of the employer
to waive the remainder of the probation after one year
Requires agencies to maintain and keep updated employee
A Stable Workplace
Under the current system, in some agencies, the process to
discipline an employee can take months and varies from agency to
agency. An employee who viewed approximately 4.2 hours of
pornographic material per day on his work computer was
reinstated with full pay and benefits because it was determined
that his termination was “too harsh”. Another employee punched a
co-worker following an argument, acknowledged the incident, and
only received a five-day suspension.
Defines “just cause” as a situation where an employer can
take progressive disciplinary action against an employee if
the performance or conduct by that employee is inadequate,
unsuitable, or inferior.
Puts in the statute the reasons by which someone can be
immediately fired from an agency:
o Harassment while on the job
o Intentionally physically harming someone while at work
o While working, being intoxicated or under the influence of
a controlled substance
o While working, being in possession of a controlled
o Falsifying the records of an agency
o Theft of agency property or services
o A conviction of an employee, if the conviction makes it
impossible for the employee to perform his or her duties
o Misuse or abuse of agency property, such as viewing
o A serious violation of the code of ethics
o “No call, no show” for 3 days
Requires a uniform standard across state government agencies
for disciplinary action
Again, I believe these reforms are common sense updates to a
system that has served our state well for many years. The
reforms presented in the bill preserve the protections for our
workers while insuring that our agencies are able to efficiently
respond and recruit the best talent in order to keep our state
workforce healthy and responsive to the needs of the people of
For more information and to connect with me, visit my website
http://legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/17/marklein and not
hesitate to call 800-978-8008 if you have input, ideas or need
assistance with any state-related matters.
Cassville Utility Bill Signed into Law
I’ve mentioned before the work that Representative
Travis Tranel and I have done on the Cassville Utility Bill,
Senate Bill (SB) 252.
This week, Governor Scott Walker signed Senate Bill 252, the
Cassville Utility Bill into law. I was pleased to see such swift
action on Senate Bill 252, which helps alleviate some reductions
in state aid payments to Cassville and Grant County due to the
closing of the two plants in the village.
Senate Bill 252 was signed into law by Governor Walker on
Wednesday, October 6, 2015.
Grant County and Village of
Cassville officials joined me for Governor Walker’s signing of
the Utility Aid legislation.
Senator Marklein’s 2015 Fall Legislative Survey
If you haven’t already, please take my 2015 Fall Legislative
Survey. Below you will find a link to a 10 question survey
seeking your thoughts on a number of relevant legislative issues
and concepts that we will be discussing in the coming months.
This survey is available online at
http://legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/17/marklein or please feel
free to print out a copy from the link below and return it to me
at PO Box 7882, Madison, WI 53703 or via fax at 608-282-3557.
Please submit your survey by October 30, 2015.
For a PDF version of the survey, click
2015-16 Blue Books
The 2015-16 Blue Books have arrived at the Capitol! If you would
like one, please let me know, I would be happy to make sure you
receive a blue book.
In the District
Youth Deer Hunt
This weekend is the youth deer hunt in Wisconsin and I wanted to
make sure you had all the information you needed if you were
planning on taking part in the hunt.
The youth hunt is open to all hunters who are ages 10-15.
Hunters 10-15 years of age, with or without hunter education
certification, are eligible to participate in the youth gun deer
hunt with a mentor. Youth hunters are authorized to hunt with a
gun in all deer management units, except for state parks. It is
important to note, a deer license is required.
Also important to note, when and where a firearm deer season is
in progress, including the youth deer hunt, no person may hunt
any game, except waterfowl, unless at least 50% of their outer
clothing above the waist is colored blaze orange.
Best of luck to everyone who will be out hunting this weekend!
2015 Aging and Disability Resource Center Health and
A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to stop by the 2015
Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) Health and Wellness
Expo in Dodgeville. After all the work we did in the budget to
keep ADRCs local, it was great to stop in for a visit and show
Mary Mezera - Regional Manager
for the ADRC of Southwest Wisconsin (serving Grant, Green, Iowa,
and Lafayette counties), Whitney Thompson - Dementia Care
Specialist for the ADRC of Southwest Wisconsin, Micki Hill
-Nurse Consultant with the Wisconsin DHS Division of Long Term
Care and Senator Howard Marklein
Motor Fuel Consumption in Wisconsin
The Department of Transportation tracks yearly fuel consumption
in Wisconsin. This has been useful to track economic growth as
well as how much gas tax is being paid into the transportation
fund. The more fuel used in Wisconsin, the more gas tax is paid
toward roads and infrastructure. The table below has total motor
fuel consumed from 1998 to an estimate of this year.
Motor Fuel Consumption in Wisconsin
Millions of Gallons
||Motor Fuel Gallons
Source: Department of Transportation
We are just now, this year, projected to use more fuel than in
2003-04. Increasing vehicle mileage and fewer miles traveled
have suppressed fuel use over the past ten years. With gas use
and gas taxes down over the past decade, this has had a negative
impact on the transportation budget.
*Senator Marklein is pleased to provide this
legislative E-Update to the constituents of the 17th State
Senate District. Please feel free to share this update with
other interested citizens and taxpayers. You are receiving this
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