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Haslam Dodges Criticism on Veteran Hiring

Tennessee’s governor is defending his plan to shake up how the state hires and fires employees. But some lawmakers are disappointed the plan strips away existing policies designed to give preferential treatment to government job-seekers who served in the United States military.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposed Tennessee Excellence, Accountability, and Management Act of 2012 would shift the state’s employment practices away from seniority and toward a merit-based system, which would shift how the state evaluates candidates, including veterans, for state jobs.

“They will always be guaranteed of the right to an interview which is the maximum you can guarantee things under the new system,” Haslam told reporters after speaking with the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association in Nashville Tuesday evening.

HB2384 has met resistance from the Tennessee State Employees Association which argues the new system would allow for patronage hiring. The governor contends the reform will help the state recruit and retain the best employees.

Some lawmakers criticized the T.E.A.M. Act’s treatment of veterans in the House State and Local Government Committee Tuesday, including Rep. Jim Cobb, R-Spring City, who said only promising interviews to military veterans is “almost an insult.”

“They should get something of value other than just, ‘Come on in and we’ll listen to what you’ve got to say but we’re not giving you anything extra for it,'” he told the committee.

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