SEANC stops intrusive personnel file bill for now

May 14, 2021

This was crossover week at the legislature when a marathon of bills are considered in an effort to survive the deadline by which they must pass one chamber or die. Roughly one-fourth of the 1,690 bills proposed in the session survived the deadline.

Senate Bill 355, which would have violated employees’ due process rights was steady on the move before the crossover deadline. On the bill’s journey, it was amended to address due process rights. However, the bill would still leave the burden on the employee to disprove anything salacious or inaccurate. The current language would keep personnel information private until 30 days after all appeals and grievance processes are exhausted. Navigating the appeals process is costly and an employee may not have the resources leaving them vulnerable to public scrutiny, gossip, and innuendo.

Furthermore, this bill would have a chilling effect on supervisors reporting disciplinary actions because anything they enter in an employee’s file is open to public access. The bill failed to meet the crossover deadline, but this doesn’t mean the issue is completely dead. We fully expect this language to crop up in another bill, possibly even the budget, as the session progresses, and stand ready to fight it!

House Bill 169, the State Treasurer’s bill that would allow the State Health Plan staff to access more data on payments made by the Plan to providers, passed the House and survived crossover as well. Much of the language in the bill was changed before it passed, though, meaning our lobbyists have more work to be done in the Senate to make sure it accomplishes its main goal of transparency and cost savings for members.

House Bill 763 made some noise on Monday when it was calendared to be considered by the House Pensions and Retirement Committee. This bill would slash the benefit formula for retirees from 1.82 to 1.50 and would end cost-of-living adjustments. Instead, retirees would get a one-time bonus based on returns. SEANC opposed this move, and the committee decided to consider it for information purposes only, rather than taking a vote.

House Bill 243, which would allow the UNC System to cut employee pay, is currently still tied up in conference committee, and the Senate has yet to name its conferees. SEANC continues to press upon legislators the need to remove the harmful provision.

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