July 14, 2020
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HB 0771CS


1The Committee on Local Government & Veterans' Affairs recommends
2the following:
4     Committee Substitute
5     Remove the entire bill and insert:
A bill to be entitled
7An act relating to Columbia County; providing for career
8service for members of the Columbia County Sheriff's
9Office; providing for application of the act, career
10status of members, and administration; providing for a
11procedure with respect to complaints against members;
12providing for appeals; providing for certain protections
13during the transition of a new Sheriff; providing for a
14Career Service Appeal Board; providing for status as
15career members; prohibiting certain actions to circumvent
16the act; providing for exclusions; providing severability;
17providing an effective date.
19Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
21     Section 1.  Members of the Columbia County Sheriff's
22Office; applicability of the act; career status of the members;
24     (1)  APPLICABILITY.--
25     (a)  The provisions of this act shall apply to all full-
26time certified and noncertified persons in the employ of the
27Columbia County Sheriff's Office except as specifically
28described in section 6 of this act.
29     (b)  As used in this act, the terms "member," "employee,"
30"employ," and "employment" shall refer to all persons, whether
31employed or appointed, to whom the act applies. It is not,
32however, the intent of this act to grant any rights not
33specifically stated in this act beyond the provisions of this
34act to persons in the employ of the Columbia County Sheriff's
35Office who do not otherwise have those rights pursuant to law.
37     (a)  After a member of the Columbia County Sheriff's Office
38to whom the provisions of this act apply has served in such
39employment for a period of 1 calendar year and successfully
40completed a probationary training program, such employee shall
41have attained career status with the Columbia County Sheriff's
42Office, provided that, if an employee is terminated and rehired
43at a later date, said employee shall be required to complete 1
44calendar year of service from the date of rehire before being
45granted the right of appeal provided in section 4 of this act.
46     (b)  Any employee who has achieved career status with the
47Columbia County Sheriff's Office may only be terminated for just
48cause, provided that prior to such action the employee shall be
49furnished written notice of the proposed action and offered an
50opportunity to respond to the reasons for the termination.
51However, in situations in which delay could result in damage or
52injury, an employee may be relieved of duty immediately and
53provided notice thereof and reasons therefor within 24 hours.
54     (c)  Just cause for initiating an internal investigation
55that may result in termination of employment shall include
56violation of the provisions of law or office rules or direct
57violation of published Sheriff's Office policy.
58     (d)  Just cause for initiating an internal investigation
59shall also include, with respect to any felony or misdemeanor,
60adjudication of guilt by a court of competent jurisdiction, a
61plea of guilty or of nolo contendere, or adjudication of guilt
62withheld and the accused placed on probation.
63     (e)  The filing of felony or misdemeanor charges by the
64state attorney against an employee shall constitute just cause
65for initiating an internal investigation.
67     (a)  When a newly elected or appointed Sheriff assumes
68office, the new Sheriff shall continue the employment of all
69currently employed career personnel unless just cause for
70termination of employment, as provided herein, exists. However,
71the incoming Sheriff shall have the option of maintaining the
72current personnel assigned to the positions of Lieutenant and
73above, Executive Assistants, Executive Office Managers, and
74Administrative Positions of Trust.
75     (b)  Positions of Trust include the Comptroller, the
76Director of Property Management, and Special Investigators
77assigned and involved in conducting internal inquiries or
78internal investigations.
79     (c)  If the incoming Sheriff fills the positions of
80Lieutenant and above, Executive Assistants, Executive Office
81Managers, and Administrative Positions of Trust with new
82personnel, the current occupants of those positions may be
83reduced to the next lower existing rank or civilian designation
84and transferred to another assignment within the same division
85or a salary adjustment of up to 10 percent downward, or both. In
86the event no position is available downward, as in a one-person
87department, the occupant may be transferred to another
88assignment within the Sheriff's Office with up to a 10-percent
89pay adjustment downward.
90     (d)  The new rank of the individuals shall be the permanent
91rank of the individuals for a period of 6 months and then may be
92later changed by independent disciplinary action.
93     (e)  Initial actions taken pursuant to this subsection
94affecting the Lieutenants and above and other Executive
95Positions of Trust and within the guidelines of section 3 shall
96not be subject to appeal under section 4.
97     (4)  ADMINISTRATION.--
98     (a)  The Sheriff shall have the authority to adopt such
99rules and regulations as are necessary for the implementation
100and administration of this act.
101     (b)  The promulgation of rules and regulations related to
102this act by the Sheriff are at his or her sole discretion;
103however, nothing in this act shall be construed as affecting the
104budget-making powers of the Board of County Commissioners of
105Columbia County.
106     Section 2.  Complaints against employees; procedure.--
107     (1)  A complaint receipt and processing procedure shall be
108established in order to provide adequately for the prompt
109receipt, investigation, and disposition of complaints against
110members of the Columbia County Sheriff's Office. The complaint
111procedure shall reflect the provisions in section 112.532,
112Florida Statutes.
113     (2)  After written receipt of the disposition of the
114complaint, if an employee is dissatisfied with the decision of
115the Sheriff regarding disciplinary action resulting in
116termination of employment, the employee may appeal the action to
117the Career Service Appeal Board.
118     Section 3.  Disciplinary appeal procedure.--
119     (1)  An appeal of disciplinary action resulting in
120termination of employment shall result in the opportunity for a
121hearing before a Career Service Appeal Board as specified in
122said procedure.
123     (2)  Immediately following the hearing, the board shall
124report to the Sheriff via the Director of Human Resources or
125other person so designated by the Sheriff.
126     Section 4.  Career Service Appeal Board; creation;
127membership; duties.--
128     (1)  FUNCTION OF BOARD.--
129     (a)  An ad hoc Career Service Appeal Board shall be
130appointed as provided herein for the purpose of hearing appeals
131from career employees brought under the provisions of this act
132or the Sheriff's Office rules or policies which result in
133termination of employment.
134     (b)  A board may also, upon the request of the Sheriff,
135provide assistance and advice to the Sheriff in matters
136concerning disciplinary actions and may take any other actions
137as authorized by the Sheriff.
138     (2)  MEMBERSHIP OF BOARD.--
139     (a)  When needed upon the call of the Sheriff or the filing
140of an appeal of a termination of employment, an ad hoc Career
141Service Appeal Board shall be appointed. The membership of each
142such board shall consist of two members selected by the Sheriff
143from among any full-time eligible employees from within the
144Sheriff's Office; two members selected by the employee filing
145the appeal from among any full-time eligible employees within
146the Sheriff's Office; and one member, who is a full-time
147eligible member from within the Columbia County Sheriff's
148Office, selected by the other members of the board, who shall
149serve as chairperson.
150     (b)  If a noncertified member requests an appeal, the two
151members selected by the noncertified member may be from among
152any full-time eligible employees from any division of the
153Sheriff's Office.
154     (c)  The appealing member shall have 7 calendar days from
155the date that the request for a hearing was delivered directly
156to the Sheriff, or to one of the Administrative Assistants in
157the Sheriff's Office, to select two qualified members willing to
158serve as members of the board and deliver their names directly
159to Human Resources. If, within the 7-day period, the appealing
160member fails to submit the names of two qualified members as
161outlined in this paragraph and paragraphs (a) and (b) who have
162been contacted and are willing to serve, the option to be heard
163by a Career Service Appeal Board is procedurally waived and
164ceases to exist.
165     (d)  The Sheriff shall, within this same 7-day period,
166deliver to Human Resources the names of his or her two
167selections to serve as members of the board. If, within the 7-
168day period, the Sheriff fails to submit the names of two
169qualified members as outlined in this paragraph and paragraph
170(a), the action against the employee is procedurally waived and
171ceases to exist.
172     (e)  The four members shall then have 5 calendar days to
173select the fifth member from the list of remaining qualified
175     (f)  If an impartial chairperson cannot be agreed upon
176within 5 calendar days after the first four members are
177selected, a judge from within the Third Circuit of the state
178shall, within 5 days, appoint a chairperson who is a full-time
179eligible member within the Columbia County Sheriff's Office.
180     (g)  The ranking officer or his or her designee in charge
181of personnel matters shall serve as an ex officio member of the
182board for the purpose of providing procedural guidance to the
183board concerning the application of this act and any rules or
184regulations of this act and any rules or regulations adopted by
185the Sheriff relating thereto, but such ex officio member shall
186have no vote.
187     (h)  The Sheriff may, on his or her own initiative, appoint
188a Career Service Appeal Board for the purpose of receiving,
189considering, and making a recommendation on matters related to
190the formation or streamlining of rules related to this act or to
191consider any other matter deemed appropriate by the Sheriff,
192excluding disciplinary termination of employment. If the issue
193to be under consideration involves a specific member of the
194Sheriff's Office and may result in some disciplinary
195recommendation by the board, the Sheriff shall notify the
196individual and offer the opportunity for the individual to
197provide two members to the board to consider the specific
198question at issue. If no specific member is involved, the
199Sheriff shall appoint two members from the Civil Division and
200two members from the Criminal Division, and the Captain of the
201Administrative Division shall serve as the chairperson. A board
202appointed by initiative may only make recommendations.
205     (a)  Standardized dates and times of meetings shall be
206established by rule and shall occur during normal administrative
207office hours.
208     (b)  Members selected to serve on the board shall serve
209without additional compensation for meetings occurring during
210their normal work hours. For nonwork hours, compensatory time at
211the rate of 150 percent for the actual hours in session shall be
212credited to the member.
213     (c)  Once selected to the board, the members thereof shall
214serve until final action is taken with respect to the purpose
215for which the board was selected, at which time the board shall
216be dissolved.
217     (d)  A new Career Service Appeal Board shall be selected
218for each separate occurrence; however, multiple parties filing
219appeals on the same incident may request to be heard by a single
221     (e)  A person may not serve as a member of an ad hoc Career
222Service Appeal Board who:
223     1.  Was involved in the original incident that resulted in
224the disciplinary process that is the subject of the appeal.
225     2.  Is related to the appellant.
226     3.  Is currently under investigation or suspension.
227     4.  Has any ongoing litigation against the Columbia County
228Sheriff's Office.
229     5.  Is on probation or has received sustained discipline
230within the past year.
232     (a)  An appeal of an action specified in section 3 shall be
233made to the Sheriff in writing and must be received by the
234Sheriff no later than 5 calendar days after the employee is
235notified of the action on which the appeal is based.
236     (b)  When a Career Service Appeal Board has been selected
237for purposes of hearing the appeal, the Sheriff shall publish
238and furnish notice to the appealing person of the date,
239location, and time of the hearing before the Career Service
240Appeal Board. In any case, the date of the hearing shall be
241within 15 calendar days, excluding weekends and holidays, after
242notification of the selection of the fifth member.
243     (c)  The date of the hearing may be extended by mutual
244agreement of the parties.
245     (d)  During the hearing, the employee filing the appeal
246shall have the right to be heard, to be represented by a person
247of his or her choice, and to present any relevant evidence on
248his or her behalf, and during the hearing the technical rules of
249evidence shall not apply.
250     (e)  The board shall, in the conduct of a hearing, have the
251power to administer oaths, issue subpoenas, compel the
252attendance of witnesses, and require the production of books,
253records, accounts, papers, documents, prior statements,
254testimony, and investigative files related to the issue that are
255in the possession of or have been delivered to Human Resources a
256minimum of 5 business days prior to the beginning of the
257hearing. In case of disobedience of any person to comply with an
258order of the board or a subpoena issued by the board, or upon
259the refusal of a witness to testify on any matter regarding
260which he may be lawfully interrogated, a County Judge of the
261county in which a person resides, upon application of a member
262of the board, shall compel obedience by proceeding as for
263contempt. Each witness who appears in obedience to a subpoena
264before the board shall receive compensation for attendance fees
265and mileage as provided for witnesses in civil cases in the
266courts of this state. Such payments shall be made by the party
267calling the witness, except that with respect to any witnesses
268called by the board, payments shall be made by the Sheriff upon
269presentation of proper vouchers and approval by three members of
270the board. In any case, the board shall restrict its
271considerations and deliberations to the evidence presented at
272the hearing.
273     (f)  This board is not governed by the Administrative
274Procedure Act, as codified in chapter 120, Florida Statutes.
276     (a)  The board shall, by majority vote, dispose of the
277appeal for which it was appointed by making a determination of
278just cause and issuing a written decision. Such decision shall
279be based upon the simple determination of a preponderance of
280evidence (51 percent). In the instance of an appeal to the board
281concerning a termination, a majority vote of the board shall be
282required to overturn the Sheriff's decision to terminate. All
283members of the board must be present to conduct any official
284business of the board.
285     (b)  If the board does not sustain the action by the
286Sheriff, back pay and benefits shall be reinstated. No board
287shall have the authority to impose on any employee any penalty
288that is different than that which formed the basis of the
289appeal. If the board sustains the action of the Sheriff, it may
290also make a recommendation to the Sheriff to reconsider
291mitigating circumstances and reconsider the termination-of-
292employment action. The Sheriff shall review the determination of
293the board and consider its recommendation prior to imposition of
294final action.
295     (c)  The decision of the board, which is to be arrived at
296by paper ballot, shall be forwarded to the Sheriff.
297     (d)  This final decision of the board shall be binding on
298the employee and the Sheriff.
299     (e)  The Sheriff shall prepare, or cause to be prepared, an
300order and publish the final disposition of the appeal. The final
301disposition shall be binding on the employee and becomes a
302public record at that time.
303     (f)  The board hearing shall be open to the public,
304recorded, and preserved for the public record. After all
305materials are received and all witnesses heard, the chairperson
306shall declare the hearing completed for the purpose of beginning
308     (g)  Official written minutes of the deliberations shall be
309kept by a clerical person and made part of the official record
310of the board.
311     (h)  The chairperson of the board shall have the authority
312to receive and consider written prehearing motions that shall be
313presented to the full board at the hearing. He or she shall
314preside over the hearing, enforce the decorum of the hearing,
315receive requests for breaks, convene the deliberations, and
316cause the removal of anyone attempting to disrupt any of the
318     Section 5.  Upon enactment.--
319     (1)  INCLUDED INDIVIDUALS.--All full-time certified and
320noncertified persons in the employ of the Columbia County
321Sheriff's Office on the effective date of this act who have
322served for a period of 1 calendar year or more and successfully
323completed their probationary period as of such effective date of
324the act shall be career employees subject to the provisions of
325this act. All other full-time employees shall become career
326employees subject to the provisions of this act upon reaching
327their 1-calendar-year service anniversary date and successfully
328completing their probationary period.
329     (2)  CIRCUMVENTION.--
330     (a)  Promotions or demotions of members or creation of rank
331to circumvent the intent of this act shall be held as a valid
332reason to request the Sheriff to appoint a Career Service
333Appeals Board to consider the issue in question.
334     (b)  No certified or noncertified full-time employee of the
335Columbia County Sheriff's Office shall be discharged or
336discriminated against in regard to his or her employment or
337appointment, or threatened with any such treatment, by reason of
338his or her exercise of the rights granted by this act.
339     Section 6.  Exclusions.--
340     (1)  The career status provisions of this act shall not
341apply to the Sheriff; to Special Deputy Sheriffs appointed
342pursuant to section 30.09(4), Florida Statutes; to members
343employed pursuant to a grant whose continued existence or
344funding is subject to the expiration or withdrawal of the grant;
345to nondisciplinary termination of employment arising out of a
346reduction of force, layoff, or partial or total abolition or
347cessation of a program, service, operation, or department at the
348discretion of the Sheriff; to members of the Sheriff's Reserve
349Unit; or to individuals appointed as part-time Deputy Sheriffs,
350as defined by the Criminal Justice Standards and Training
351Commission, unless any such person is also employed full-time by
352the Columbia County Sheriff's Office.
353     (2)  This act shall not apply to an otherwise covered
354person who claims that a termination of employment was for
355lawful off-duty political activity. Claims of this nature are
356already covered under chapter 30, Florida Statutes.
357     (3)  This act shall not apply to an otherwise covered
358person who claims that a termination of employment was for
359discriminatory purposes. Claims of this nature are already
360covered under state and federal statutes.
361     Section 7.  Severability.--The provisions of this act shall
362be severable and, if any of the provisions shall be
363unconstitutional, the decision of the court shall not affect the
364validity of the remaining provisions. It is hereby declared to
365be the intent of the Legislature that this act would have been
366adopted had such unconstitutional provision not been included
368     Section 8.  This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.

CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.
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