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Civil Service Changes On Track, Walker Administration Officials Say

New Law Goes Into Effect on July 1

The Wisconsin Capitol reflected in an office window
Steve Brown & John Verkleir (CC-BY)

Changes to Wisconsin’s civil service system are on track, according to state officials’ testimony before lawmakers on Wednesday.

The changes, signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker earlier this year, include a new discipline process for employee misconduct and eliminating the state’s civil service exam.

“The civil service system that takes effect on July 1 will be an improvement to the inconsistent labyrinth of rules that have been used for the past fifty years,” said Cate Zeuske, deputy secretary the state Department of Administration, which is overseeing implementation of the changes.

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Outreach will be key element of that process.

“We have a great task ahead of us, to communicate changes to 35,000 state employees,” Zeuske said.

During the testimony, Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, revisited a popular criticism of the new law, saying it could invite politically-motivated hiring.

“I think the reason why there’s a great skepticism is just based off of the well-established history of what’s happened with workers and workers’ rights in the state of Wisconsin over the last six years,” he said.

Administration fficials say previous protections against such practices are still in place.

“I think Wisconsin has always been looked upon as a state where the hiring process made sure there wasn’t political patronage, this particular legislation that was enacted into law does not touch that area,” Zeuske said. “I think employees are protected from not having that type of political patronage.”

State employees also got their first look at new workplace rules on Wednesday. While the law goes into effect on July 1, those rules won’t be effective until Sept.1, officials said.