Open Seat 48th E-Newsletter

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Week of May 7, 2018

The Wall That Heals visits Harrisburg May 9th to May 13th

The PA General Assembly is hosting The Wall That Heals exhibition featuring a replica of the Washington, D.C. Vietnam Veterans Memorial and mobile Education Center.  The replica will be located on the grass section in front of the Irvis Building, at the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and Walnut Street, Harrisburg.  Opening ceremony is at 7 p.m. on May 9th, and the free exhibit will remain open 24 hours a day until 2 p.m. on May 13th.

Swatara Township, Dauphin County Election District Changes

My office was notified by the Dauphin County Board of Elections of changes in the Election Districts that comprise Swatara Township, Dauphin County.  The notification indicated that in response to a citizen’s petition, the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas issued an order to divide Swatara Township’s election districts into 10 precincts rather than the previous nine wards.

The boundaries of the former wards 1, 2, 3, 4 and 7 were untouched other than renaming as precincts.  The former wards of 5, 6, 8 and 9 were realigned to better balance voter numbers and to create a new 10th Precinct.  The Community Room of the Waterford at Summit View, 8301 Presidents Drive, Hummelstown, is the polling place for the newly-created 10th Precinct.  Voters who have been reassigned to a new election district should have received new voter registration cards and a letter of explanation in the mail already.  If you have any questions, you can call the Dauphin County Bureau of Registration and Elections at (717) 780-6360.

Fort Indiantown Gap Leads Nation in Army National Guard Training

Fort Indiantown Gap, in Lebanon County in the 48th Senatorial District, run by members of the PA National Guard and PA Department of Military and Veterans Affairs led the nation in Army ational Guard mandays for fiscal year 2017.  Numbers increased over last year’s, with 10,000 individuals trained and an additional 15,000 mandays.  The installation trained more than 130,000 service members, federal, state, local and international personnel, and had more than 775,000 mandays.  A manday is equal to one person training for one day.

For more information on the training and operations, maintenance, logistics, police, fire department, public affairs and community outreach and Eastern Army National Guard Aviation Training Site at Fort Indiantown Gap, and to read the full article, click here.

Constituent Highlight:  Alisher Aminov and Kenya Mitchell

Commonwealth Charter Academy (CCA) students, including Alisher Aminov of Lebanon and Kenya Mitchell of Steelton, recently represented PA at a national engineering competition to support modern farming.  The students competed against 28 other schools from around the United States and China to develop the design and implementation of an unmanned aerial vehicle to support precision agriculture in the production of corn.

Column:  Modernizing the Civil Service Commission

The Senate State Government Committee, which I chair, recently held a public hearing on legislation introduced by Senator Vulakovich and me to modernize the Pennsylvania Civil Service Commission.

Senator Vulakovich and I introduced this measure to further modernization plans we started two years ago when we initiated some modest changes in the law to:

  • Allow civil service applicants to be notified of job openings or tests by email;
  • Expand the “Rule of Three” to create stronger pools of candidates to fill positions by permitting the Commission to provide lists of more than three candidates, and;
  • Bring “vacancy based hiring” to the Civil Service Commission by allowing them to post actual job vacancies rather than general lists of job classifications.

The General Assembly also approved a number of other changes to the Civil Service law to:

  • Prevent Civil Service Commissioners from being politically active or working for another government entity;
  • Establish a uniform method to apply for both civil service and non-civil service positions, and;
  • Allow appointing authorities to select the type of exams the Commission uses to develop lists of candidates for agency positions.

Our current legislation proposes further modernizations to better meet customer’s needs:  those seeking employment with the Commonwealth – especially veterans – and state government agencies needing to hire people.

Our legislation proposes to better meet these customers’ needs by moving hiring responsibilities from the Civil Service Commission to the Governor’s Office of Administration.  These proposed changes include:  merit-based hiring, civil service applications, certifications, examinations, and, promotions.

Although our plan would move hiring from the Civil Service Commission to the Governor’s Office of Administration, merit-based hiring would NOT be affected as agencies would continue to hire people based upon their qualifications.  Also, agencies and professions currently covered by merit hiring would continue to be subject to merit hiring.

Our initiative would also retain the Civil Service Commission’s jurisdiction over appeals from employment decisions.  This would include the Commission’s authority to:  conduct hearings and render determinations, exempt positions from civil service, and audit Commonwealth compliance with the Civil Service Act – the latter to provide checks and balances relating to the proposed transfer of merit-based hiring to the Office of Administration.

Most importantly, SB 1037 makes NO changes to veterans’ preference, as those protections are provided in the Military Code.

Many of our recommended changes are not new and have been offered in previous Legislation Sessions of the General Assembly.  These changes are also consistent with the Office of Administration’s successful efforts to consolidate human resources and IT functions.

The Senate State Government Committee recently held a public hearing on these proposed changes and I was pleased to hear from the Civil Service Commissioners, Office of Administration Secretary Minnich, Deputy Adjutant General Weller, Director of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation in the Department of Labor & Industry, the Pennsylvania War Veterans Council, members of the disabled community, and the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania.

This input will be invaluable as we work to bring these changes to Pennsylvania.

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