A Special Legislative Commission to Study and Examine the Civil Service Law reconvened on Dec. 12 to hear an initial reform proposal from its co-chairs and staff at the Civil Service Commission.

The Civil Service presentation focused on a proposed new “hybrid” pathway, which civil service departments could use to identify applicants for municipal police and fire positions outside of the existing entry-level process through the state’s Human Resources Division.

The hybrid pathway would allow civil service cities and towns to opt-in through a multi-year memorandum of understanding with the HRD. The MOU would include “anti-nepotism and anti-favoritism” language.

The hybrid pathway would allow for the following:
• Cities and towns could make up to 50% of entry-level police and fire appointments outside of the traditional civil service exam process, drawing from a locally generated pool of prospective candidates.
• Cities and towns could consider prospective “hybrid” candidates immediately, regardless of whether they have taken a civil service examination and without the need for a certification from the HRD.
• Prospective candidates would go through the same, pre-existing review process, including a pre-conditional offer background check and post-conditional offer medical and physical abilities tests.
• Once all conditions are met, the HRD would authorize a candidate’s employment in the same manner as traditional civil service candidates, subject to completion of a prescribed course of study at an approved police or fire academy, if not already completed.
• Civil service communities could appoint incumbent police officers from non-civil service communities through this process for entry-level positions only, but those candidates would be considered original appointments, and would not retain any seniority.

The special legislative commission, which is scheduled to meet again on Jan. 10, was established by Chapter 253 of the Acts of 2020, known as the Policing Reform Law. The panel has been co-chaired by Sen. Michael Brady and Rep. Ken Gordon, who also co-chair the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Service.

The panel offered an interim final report in March of 2022, and its charge was recently extended into the current legislative session.

The chairs of the special legislative commission said they intend to propose legislation — which is not yet available — that will include the “hybrid” pathway, as well as many other recommendations from the commission’s interim final report. Its policy recommendations are likely to include:
• Adding flexibility for municipalities in providing residency requirements
• Adjusting the formula for entry-level certifications (from 2n+1 to 3n+1)
• Supporting and investing in cadet programs
• Lowering barriers to the civil service exam fee waivers
• Increasing the Civil Service Commission budget and enhancing its authority
• Supporting diversity scholarship models

In the coming weeks, a bill is expected to be reported out of the Joint Committee on Public Service and forwarded into the legislative process.

The Joint Committee on Public Service has also released its presentation from the Dec. 12 meeting of the special commission.

For more information, contact MMA Senior Executive and Legislative Director Dave Koffman at dkoffman@mma.org.

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