As expected, after Governor Cox’s budget recommendations proposed ending all new hiring in the state’s merit-protected career service, legislation to achieve this was introduced in the 2024 legislative session. HB 429 called for almost all new hires in the executive branch to be at-will employees (subject to being fired for any reason and without independent review), starting January 1, 2025. The only categories of employees exempted would have been law enforcement and those administering federal programs, such as Medicaid. Federal rules require traditional civil service protections for the latter.

Fortunately, in the view of UCC, the bill did not become law. UCC spoke against the bill before the House Government Operations Committee. The bill passed there by a vote of 5 (yes)-4(no)-4 (absent) The bill then passed the full House, despite all House members receiving UCC’s written rebuttal to the sponsors’ rationale in committee. However, 14 Republicans joined all the Democrats in opposing the bill. The Senate then sent the bill to its Business and Labor Committee, where UCC again spoke against the bill, joined by a big turnout of organized labor members. The bill failed 2-3-3, with one Republican joining the two Democrats on the committee. Failure in committee meant it was not voted on by the full Senate.

UCC cannot know, of course, if a similar bill will return for a third year in 2025, but we will watch and alert you if it does. We are gratified that there is bi-partisan opposition to weakening the professionalism of Utah’s public employees and making them more vulnerable to political pressures.