In past years, a Democratic-controlled House thwarted efforts of former Republican Gov. Haley Barbour to take state employees out from under the authority of the Personnel Board.
On Wednesday, a proposal to remove civil service protection for two years died in a state House that now has a slim Republican majority when Appropriations Chairman Herb Frierson, R-Poplarville, opted not to bring it up on a deadline day.
“I didn’t have the votes to pass it,” Frierson said. “It was 18 votes short.”
The Republican leadership has argued that agency heads needed more flexibility to fire employees to deal with budget woes. Opponents argued that they already can reduce their workforce under current Personnel Board guidelines, but civil service protection was needed to ensure employees were not fired for political reasons.
Earlier this session the Senate passed legislation to remove civil service protection. Frierson’s proposal that died Wednesday was more modest. It maintained the civil service protection, but when reducing the workforce more emphasis would be placed on performance than seniority.
Rep Cecil Brown, D-Jackson, said the Personnel Board can do this without legislation.
Most state employees have civil service protection. In a few agencies, such as the governor’s office, all are at-will employees.