Stender, Gusciora, Conaway & Eustace Bill to Again Invalidate Christie Effort to Dismantle Civil Service Released by Assembly Panel

Posted by in State Government

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Linda Stender, Reed Gusciora, Herb Conaway M.D. and Timothy Eustace sponsored to once again invalidate Gov. Christie’s efforts to dismantle Civil Service rules that protect New Jersey from corruption and cronyism was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.
The bill (ACR-192) invalidates, in whole, the rule proposed by the Civil Service Commission to establish a job banding program. In addition, the resolution expressly provides that any amendments to that rule adopted by the Commission, including the amendment filed by the commission with the Office of Administrative Law on July 16 are null and void.
“Gov. Christie and his Civil Service Commission can keep trying to amend the rule as part of their campaign to destroy Civil Service and all the good it’s done for New Jersey taxpayers, but we’re not going to give up either,” said Stender (D-Union/Middlesex/Somerset). “The new rule is contrary to the spirit, intent and plain meaning of the provision in the New Jersey Constitution that requires that promotions of public employees be based on merit and fitness to be ascertained, as far as practicable, by competitive examination. The public policy of this state must be to select and advance employees on the basis of their relative knowledge, skills and abilities, ensure equal employment opportunity at all levels of public service and protect career public employees from political coercion.”
“If the administration is allowed to do away with civil service exams in favor of job banding, a hardworking employee’s job performance and aptitude may be largely ignored,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “This will open the door for nepotism and cronyism, allowing a manager to promote anyone they wish regardless of their job performance.”
“The civil service system ensures that employees are selected and advanced on the basis of their relative knowledge, skills and abilities,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This ensures equal employment opportunity at all levels of public service and protects career public employees from political coercion. We can’t allow politics to trump proficiency in the hiring process.”
“The proposed amendments would make only minor changes and are not responsive to the Legislature’s finding that job banding is not consistent with legislative intent as expressed in the language of the Civil Service Act,” said Conaway (D-Burlington). “So. unfortunately, we have to go through this process again because Gov. Christie just doesn’t get it.”
Pursuant to Article V, Section IV, paragraph 6 of the Constitution of the State of New Jersey, the Legislature may review any rule or regulation adopted or proposed by an administrative agency to determine if it’s consistent with the intent of the Legislature, and invalidate an adopted rule or regulation or prohibit the adoption of a proposed rule or regulation if it finds that the rule or regulation is not consistent with legislative intent.
Upon finding that a rule or regulation, either proposed or adopted, is not consistent with legislative intent, Article V, Section IV, paragraph 6 provides that the Legislature shall transmit its findings in the form of a concurrent resolution to the governor and the head of the executive branch agency which promulgated, or plans to promulgate, the rule or regulation, and the agency shall have 30 days from the time the concurrent resolution is transmitted to amend or withdraw the rule or regulation.
If the agency does not amend or withdraw the existing or proposed rule or regulation, Article V, Section IV, paragraph 6 provides that the Legislature may invalidate or prohibit the adoption of the proposed rule or regulation, following a public hearing held by either house on the invalidation or prohibition, the placement of a transcript of the public hearing on the desks of the members of each House of the Legislature in open meeting followed by the passage of at least 20 calendar days, and a vote of a majority of the authorized membership of each house in favor of a concurrent resolution invalidating or prohibiting the adoption of the rule or regulation.
In this case, the Civil Service Commission adopted a new rule, entitled “Job Banding Program,” which was filed with the Office of Administrative Law on February 28, 2013 and published in the New Jersey Register on March 18, 2013, and was adopted by the commission at its meeting on May 7 and became effective on June 2 upon publication in the New Jersey Register.
On June 16, a resolution received final approval by the Legislature and was filed with the Secretary of State, and transmitted to the governor and the chair of the Civil Service Commission. The resolution expressed the Legislature’s finding that the Civil Service Commission’s new rule was not consistent with legislative intent and informed the commission that the commission shall have 30 days following transmittal of that concurrent resolution to amend or withdraw the new rule or the Legislature may, by passage of another concurrent resolution, exercise its authority under the Constitution to invalidate the regulation in whole or in part.
On July 16, the Civil Service Commission approved proposed amendments to the job banding rule.
The bill was released by the Assembly Regulatory Oversight Committee.