Sweeping legislation would mean big change for state workers - CBS 5 - KPHO


Sweeping legislation would mean big change for state workers

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Those behind House Bill 2571 said it would bring Arizona's personnel system to the 21st century.

Those opposed say it would open the door to political cronyism.

CBS 5 News went straight to the bill's sponsor for some answers.

"What we're trying to do with this bill is modernize our state personnel system," said Rep. Justin Olson.

Those who sponsor massive bills like this one typically have a way to talk up the good points.

"Is it going to make it easier to terminate employees?" asked reporter Elizabeth Erwin.

"It will get rid of a lot of the red tape that currently surrounds our personnel system," Olson answered.

In other words, yes.

Then there's the section about the Department of Public Safety.

"We recognize that officers who are sworn officers are carrying firearms, making split second decisions on life and death. They shouldn't be second guessing those decisions based on the status of their job," Olson said.

No one will debate the tough job our law enforcement officers have, especially not Patty Simpson.

"I've been with DPS for 23 years," Simpson said.

She represents the civilian half of DPS as a supervisor at a 911 call center.

She's also a member of the Arizona Highway Patrol Association.

"For the most part we're dealing with a lot of accident type calls.  Occasionally we get suicide callers and things like that."

If anyone makes split second decisions that impact people's lives it's Simpson.

And she's not the only one.

Civilians at DPS work in the crime lab, and as the photographers who take pictures of crime scenes and in the sex offender unit.

They fill big jobs, but under the bill they won't be viewed the same as their gun carrying counterparts.

"The bill, the way I understand it, it's going to form a separate classification for all civilians to go under," Simpson said.

Simpson said that means they won't have the same protections and the same checks and balances as their colleagues.

"Are you aware that about half of the DPS employees are civilians," Erwin asked Olson.

"That is correct. And there's been a lot of analysis surrounding whether the civilian folks in DPS should be exempted out of this bill as well," he responded.

Right now, the bill is at its final step in the Senate, but Olson expected there would be some changes as to how those DPS civilian employees are classified.

CBS 5 news will keep an eye on it and let you know what happens.

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