Barrar Leads House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee Hearing on Veterans Preference Laws
3/7/2012
HARRISBURG – Rep. Stephen E. Barrar (R-Chester/Delaware), majority chairman of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, today led the committee in its examination of two legislative proposals that would strengthen veterans preference laws in public sector employment.

“Today the committee focused on a package of bills intended to enhance the use of veterans preference in our State Civil Service System,” said Barrar. “It is imperative that our veterans preference law is alive and well, and today’s public hearing has greatly assisted us in our mission to ensure our veterans are receiving the benefits they have earned through their service, including public sector employment opportunities.”

During the hearing, the committee heard testimony regarding Barrar’s House Bill 1092, which would create the Office of Veterans Advocate to assist veterans who have problems concerning veterans preference, civil service appointments and post-deployment civilian employment.

Auditor General Jack Wagner testified before the committee. Wagner performed an audit of the State Civil Service Commission in 2008 and, uncovered lax enforcement of veterans preference laws.

“Our audit, which covered the period July 1, 2002, to June 30, 2006, found that the State Civil Service Commission was lax in its administration and oversight of the Veterans’ Preference Program,” Wagner told the committee. “Specifically, our auditors found that 25 state agencies filled at least 569 civil service employment positions without considering eligible veterans whose test scores ranked among the three highest for each position. State agencies filled two-thirds of the employment vacancies by discarding employment lists that included the names of qualified veterans, and instead, used employment lists that excluded veterans seeking jobs with the Commonwealth.”

Wagner added there were other instances where positions were not filled by veterans due to a lack of proper list generation and other reasons.

Under the Military Affairs Act of 1975 and the Pennsylvania Civil Service Law, veterans are awarded 10 additional points on civil service exams. The State Civil Service Commission is required to provide a mandatory hiring preference for any veteran applying for a civil service position if he or she attains one of the three highest scores on the exam.

The committee also discussed House Bill 1152, which was authored by Rep. Scott Perry (R-York/Cumberland). The measure would further clarify veterans preference, including provisions regarding external promotions.

“I am grateful to Chairman Barrar for bringing attention to initiatives that help to strengthen veterans preference in public sector employment and am honored to have my legislation be part of that plan,” said Perry. “Our service members certainly deserve special consideration for employment opportunities in exchange for the sacrifices they have made, or continue to make for our Commonwealth and nation.”

Reinforcing Pennsylvania’s veterans preference laws has been a priority for Barrar and the committee.

Last year, Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law Act 76 of 2011 (formerly House Bill 378), which would require one of the three members of Pennsylvania’s State Civil Service Commission to be a veteran of the United States Armed Forces. The measure was part of the original legislative package examined during the hearing today. Barrar was a co-sponsor of the legislation and was instrumental in ushering it through the legislative process.

“Act 76 will go a long way in ensuring veterans preference laws are heeded, and the legislation discussed by the committee today will further bolster our efforts to recognize and reward veterans for the sacrifice they made for this nation,” said Barrar. “I thank everyone who testified before the committee, and I am hopeful we will be able to get these bills through the process and onto the governor’s desk in the near future.”

Along with Wagner, other testifiers included Rebecca Burns, citizen advocate for veterans; John Brenner, chairman of the Pennsylvania Veterans Commission; Kit Watson, state adjutant with the Pennsylvania American Legion; and members of the State Civil Service Commission John Stevens, James Martin and Odelfa Smith Preston.

Information about Barrar’s legislative priorities is available at SteveBarrar.com and Facebook.com/RepBarrar.

State Representative Steve Barrar
160th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Nicole Wamsley
nwamsley@pahousegop.com 
717.783.8063
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