October 11, 2019 (Anchorage, AK) – Alaska Governor Michael J. Dunleavy today announced that he has vetoed House Bill 48, legislation to reclassify state employees in temporary or special positions and repeal authority given to Commissioners and the Governor to authorize higher pay for certain positions.
Governor Dunleavy shared the following statement:
“Reaching this decision was difficult. I agree with the original intent of the bill that Representative Wilson brought forward. We both identified it as a change that needed to occur in our Personnel Act; I introduced the same provision in a bill I brought forward this past session.
“What we struggled with, as we had departments look at the bill after passage, was the repeal of the valuable tool that the Executive branch may utilize in unique cases. There are certain positions in departments that require a significant amount of experience and professional qualifications, such as petroleum land managers and commercial analysts in the Department of Natural Resources, the Chief Financial Officer for Retirement and Benefits and the Chief Technology Officer in the Department of Administration, and the Tax Division Director in the Department of Revenue.
“On one hand, the bill fixed a significant problem. On the other hand, it eliminated a tool that is used to address the State’s ability to recruit and retain employees of the highest level of qualifications and experience. As I am not able to partially veto a bill, I have committed to working with Rep. Wilson in the future to address the use or creation of temporary or special positions.”
HB 48 as introduced by Rep. Wilson proposed to reclassify people employed in a temporary or special position, from the exempt service to the partially exempt service. This move would require the use of statutory salary schedule, enrollment in PERS and other healthcare benefits and entitle the individual to accrue leave.
HB 48 was amended through the committee process and a provision was added that repealed an important tool that allowed Commissioners and the Governor to authorize a higher level of pay for certain positions where the employee must possess exceptional qualifications and professional experience, and the department can verify that recruitment difficulties exist for a certain position and that an action is warranted due to competitive salaries in the labor market.