For the second week, debate continues in the state Senate on how to restructure the agency that doles out unemployment checks. Tuesday, Senate leader Glenn McConnell of Charleston offered an idea, sponsored by a few of the Senate’s most powerful Republicans. In this Employment Security Commissioners would be chosen differently.
“It opens up the process to merit. Instead of being politically-connected, or being a good donor to the candidate that wins for governor or something. Instead, any person who has the qualifications can step up and present themselves to be considered for this position,” McConnell says.
The bill creates a nine-member merit selection panel which screens the applicants to pick the most qualified person. McConnell says that name is then presented to the governor. He can accept or reject that person. If rejected, the panel must submit the next most qualified choice.
Some Senate Democrats have asked to sign on as co-sponsors. Debate continues today on this amendment and the rest of the bill to re-organize the Employment Security Commission and how it conducts business.
Earlier this week, two senior staffers left the agency and Tuesday, Commissioner Becky Richardson sent a letter to the Post and Courier of Charleston, criticizing the way the agency has been run.
On Wednesday, Commission Chairman William McLeod responded to Richardson with his own letter to various media outlets. Read McLeod’s statement here.
McConnell says his amendment gives the governor’s office power, but makes commissioners accountable to more than just the governor: “It puts the performance where it should and dismissal can’t be because ‘I am your boss and I tell you to do it and if you don’t do it, I’ll dismiss you.’ It does away with that broad discretion.”