Topeka Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration wants to make all employees of the Kansas Department of Labor unclassified employees without Civil Service protection.
Democrats blasted the proposal.
The move would affect 383 classified workers, or about two thirds of the workforce at the agency, according to Labor Secretary Karin Brownlee.
Brownlee said the change is needed because federal law requires that the agency dealing with unemployment insurance must be a performance-based employment system.
“We believe the federal law and state law are incongruent,” Brownlee said.
She also said the Department of Labor will soon have to downsize as it receives fewer federal dollars.
“As we downsize, we need to keep people who will do the best job and are the most efficient,” she said.
On Thursday before the Senate Commerce Committee, Brownlee proposed an amendment to another labor-related bill that says "all employees of the department of labor shall serve at the pleasure and direction of the secretary of labor."
The committee approved the amendment above the protestations of Democrats who said they were caught off-guard.
On Friday, Democratic leaders called it one of the worst anti-worker proposals from Republicans during the current legislative session.
“Allowing an incoming administration to fire an entire department -- this is absolutely abysmal,” House Democratic Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence said.
Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka said, “We should not be taking away Civil Service protections from state employees.”