UPEA’s Priority Bills – Week Two Progress, Action, and Summary

H.B. 139 – Competency-Based Hiring Amendments

H.B. 139 1st Substitute, Competency-Based Hiring Amendments, creates and codifies state statute which would require agencies within state government to consider a job applicant’s ability and experience in lieu of education when determining their qualifications for employment. The House Government Operations Committee passed this bill with a favorable recommendation on Monday, January 25, with a substitution clarifying that it only applies to state agencies and merely serves as a guide for similar practice within other local and private entities.

The bill’s sponsor, Representative Norm Thurston, explained that H.B. 139 “takes long-standing practice from [DHRM] to not require a specific college degree or other minimum education requirements without providing an alternative, and puts that into statute.” If H.B. 139 is passed, all applicable job descriptions will be revised by DHRM to reflect this change.

H.B. 252 – State Pay Plan Amendments

H.B. 252 creates a career ladder pay plan for all POST certified officers employed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Over the last several years, the Department of Corrections and the Department of Public Safety have implemented career ladders for their certified officers – these plans grant salary increases or “steps” to reward existing officers for their time and experience within the department, while also serving as a recruitment incentive for officers interested in state employment.

Currently, DNR POST certified officers do not have a career ladder in place. This legislation will direct the Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM) to create, define, and establish a career ladder pay plan for POST-certified officers employed by DNR.

While this legislation creates the platform for a career ladder, it does not fund the pay plan.  Once the plan has been created, DHRM should be asked to provide a calculation for future budget requirements. Funding is approved each year by the legislature.

S.B. 13 – Law Enforcement Internal Investigation Requirements

S.B. 13 seeks to establish agency reporting requirements if a law enforcement officer terminates his/her employment while an internal investigation is in progress. This bill requires an employing law enforcement agency or training academy to provide information to a prospective employer upon request and requires law enforcement agencies to report certain investigations to POST.

S.B. 13 is a continuation of a previous bill sponsored by former legislator and retired Utah Highway Patrol officer, Lee Perry, which sought to ensure the accountability and professionalism of Utah’s law enforcement officers. Perry spoke in support of S.B. 13, stating “there’s nothing a good [officer] hates more than a bad officer. We’re the biggest advocates to remove those that shouldn’t be in the profession.”

S.B. 67 – Workplace Violence Protective Orders

S.B. 67 addresses a loophole in state statute, according to the bill’s sponsor, Senator Todd Weiler – If an employee is terminated and makes threats of imminent bodily harm to former employees or the employer, individuals who are threatened can request a protective order against that terminated employee. After a protective order is placed, a hearing will be scheduled before a judge to allow the person who the protective order is over, to give their side of the story.

If a protective order is not requested when a threat occurs, that terminated former employee can access all public property (i.e., former workplace location) without consequence. If a protective order is requested, the terminated former employee is not allowed to be near the former workplace regardless of public or private property. This bill ensures that if protective orders are placed, they are implemented by authorities if violated.

S.J.R. 2 – Retirement and Independent Entities Committee Amendments

Senator Wayne Harper explained to the House Revenue and Taxation Committee that the Retirement and Independent Entities Committee had run its course. Over the past few years, fewer and fewer bills and appropriations requests have come before the committee. In a typical year, the committee would only hear approximately 2-5 bills or appropriation requests. If approved, S.J.R. 2 suspends the rules and dissolves the Retirement and Independent Entities Appropriations Committee and standing committee. “It would still”, Senator Harper said, “remain an interim committee to ensure that if questions or concerns regarding retirement or independent entities the committee would be able to study and make recommendations.” If issues do arise, the Revenue and Taxation Committee will absorb the items.