Wisconsin Senate approves bill that would overhaul civil service system

MADISON — The Wisconsin Senate has approved a bill that would overhaul Wisconsin's civil service system.

The Senate passed the Republican measure 19-14 Wednesday, January 20th after about two-and-a-half hours of debate. The Assembly passed the bill in October. It now goes to Gov. Scott Walker for his signature. The governor supports the bill.

The measure would do away with applicant exams, centralize hiring decisions within the state Department of Administration, an arm of Walker's administration, eliminate bumping rights that have protected more experienced worker from layoffs, create merit bonuses and extend probation periods from the current six months to two years. It also would define what constitutes just cause for termination.

Democrats complained that the bill would open the door to political cronyism in state agencies. Republicans countered that state hiring must move more quickly and efficiently.