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Republican leaders split on personnel law reforms

State Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger is actively supporting the
effort to open up North Carolina's personnel laws, but his counterpart
in the House is showing little interest in the subject.

House Minority Leader Paul Stam said today the reform effort was nothing more
than another crusade by The News & Observer that other media have
shown no interest in. He largely dismissed the need to make personnel
matters more transparent.

Berger files personnel law reform bill

Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger this week has filed legislation intended to make public disciplinary actions, salary and employment histories, and letters of recommendation for public employees.

But he admitted after a close reading of his bill that it is likely going to need some work.

While the title of Senate Bill 1433 would require the release of letters of recommendation and disciplinary actions, the bill's text doesn't appear to.

It would require personnel officials to release the "date of each promotion, demotion, transfer, suspension, separation, or other change in position classification." But that raises the question, would personnel officials disclose that there had been a demotion or just the date that a change in position classification had happened?

The bill also appears to only address the personnel law as it pertains to state employees. That's contained in General Statute 126. But teachers, local government and other public employees are covered in several other statutes. The language in each is nearly identical, but to catch all employees, Berger's legislation will likely have to amend each statute.

Berger, a Rockingham County Republican, said he will check with his staff and with bill drafters to see if the legislation needs to be re-written. If so he will introduce a new version if and when it comes up in committee

Ultimately, the vehicle for personnel law changes may not be Berger's bill. State Sen. David Hoyle, a Gaston County Democrat, has said he plans to introduce similar reforms by amending existing legislation that is in play this session.

Both lawmakers are taking action after The News & Observer reported in a three-part series, Keeping Secrets, that North Carolina has one of the nation's most secretive personnel laws, preventing little more than the release of current salaries, positions and raises of public employees.



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