House Joint Resolution 35 - Study employee bonus payments
Although the topic of bonus payments for state employees generated significant controversy during the 61st Legislature, none of the bills introduced to address bonuses made it through the legislative process. The House State Administration Committee reviewed and then tabled three bills that took different approaches to solving the problem:
House Bill 358 was introduced by Representative Bob Bergren (D-Havre);
House Bill 576 was introduced by Representative Wendy Warburton (R-Havre); and
House Bill 594 was introduced by Representative Chuck Hunter (D-Helena).
Instead, the Committee recommended the topic be studied during the interim so legislators would have additional information and possibly be able to draft legislation that encompassed all facets of the bonus issue, not just one or two. House Joint Resolution 35 was the result of that request, and it ranked 9th in the poll of legislators to determine priorities for interim studies. At its May 27, 2009, meeting, the Legislative Council assigned HJR 35 to the State Administration and Veterans' Affairs Committee.
HJR 35 directs SAVA or legislative staff to review the bonus policies and practices of state agencies, examine how certain funds appropriated for employee pay were used, and to look at some of the broader policy issues involved with bonuses as an administration tool. The resolution asks that the study be conducted with the following policy goals in mind:
transparency to avoid possible impropriety or the appearance of impropriety;
accountability and oversight to ensure established procedures are followed and that there is ongoing monitoring and periodic review of policies and practices;
equity within and among agencies to ensure that there is a sound rationale for flexible policies, variable practices, and exceptions; and
definition and clarity in statewide as well as agency standards and guidelines governing how and why bonuses are to be given to employees in classified and nonclassified positions.