July 11, 2020
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HB 0771CS


1The Committee on State Administration recommends the following:
3     Committee Substitute
4     Remove the entire bill and insert:
A bill to be entitled
6An act relating to Columbia County; providing for career
7service for members of the Columbia County Sheriff's
8Office; providing for application of the act, career
9status of members, and administration; providing for a
10procedure with respect to complaints against members;
11providing for appeals; providing for certain protections
12during the transition of a new Sheriff; providing for a
13Career Service Appeal Board; providing for status as
14career members; prohibiting certain actions to circumvent
15the act; providing for exclusions; providing severability;
16providing an effective date.
18Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
20     Section 1.  Members of the Columbia County Sheriff's
21Office; applicability of the act; career status of the members;
23     (1)  APPLICABILITY.--
24     (a)  The provisions of this act shall apply to all full-
25time certified and noncertified persons in the employ of the
26Columbia County Sheriff's Office except as specifically
27described in section 6 of this act.
28     (b)  As used in this act, the terms "member," "employee,"
29"employ," and "employment" shall refer to all persons, whether
30employed or appointed, to whom the act applies. It is not,
31however, the intent of this act to grant any rights not
32specifically stated in this act beyond the provisions of this
33act to persons in the employ of the Columbia County Sheriff's
34Office who do not otherwise have those rights pursuant to law.
36     (a)  After a member of the Columbia County Sheriff's Office
37to whom the provisions of this act apply has served in such
38employment for a period of 1 calendar year and successfully
39completed a probationary training program, such employee shall
40have attained career status with the Columbia County Sheriff's
41Office, provided that, if an employee is terminated and rehired
42at a later date, said employee shall be required to complete 1
43calendar year of service from the date of rehire before being
44granted the right of appeal provided in section 4 of this act.
45     (b)  Any employee who has achieved career status with the
46Columbia County Sheriff's Office may only be terminated for just
47cause, provided that prior to such action the employee shall be
48furnished written notice of the proposed action and offered an
49opportunity to respond to the reasons for the termination.
50However, in situations in which delay could result in damage or
51injury, an employee may be relieved of duty immediately and
52provided notice thereof and reasons therefor within 24 hours.
53     (c)  Just cause for initiating an internal investigation
54that may result in termination of employment shall include
55violation of the provisions of law or office rules or direct
56violation of published Sheriff's Office policy.
57     (d)  Just cause for initiating an internal investigation
58shall also include, with respect to any felony or misdemeanor,
59adjudication of guilt by a court of competent jurisdiction, a
60plea of guilty or of nolo contendere, or adjudication of guilt
61withheld and the accused placed on probation.
62     (e)  The filing of felony or misdemeanor charges by the
63state attorney against an employee shall constitute just cause
64for initiating an internal investigation.
66     (a)  When a newly elected or appointed Sheriff assumes
67office, the new Sheriff shall continue the employment of all
68currently employed career personnel unless just cause for
69termination of employment, as provided herein, exists. However,
70the incoming Sheriff shall have the option of maintaining the
71current personnel assigned to the positions of Lieutenant and
72above, Executive Assistants, Executive Office Managers, and
73Administrative Positions of Trust.
74     (b)  Positions of Trust include the Comptroller, the
75Director of Property Management, and Special Investigators
76assigned and involved in conducting internal inquiries or
77internal investigations.
78     (c)  If the incoming Sheriff fills the positions of
79Lieutenant and above, Executive Assistants, Executive Office
80Managers, and Administrative Positions of Trust with new
81personnel, the current occupants of those positions may be
82reduced to the next lower existing rank or civilian designation
83and transferred to another assignment within the same division
84or a salary adjustment of up to 10 percent downward, or both. In
85the event no position is available downward, as in a one-person
86department, the occupant may be transferred to another
87assignment within the Sheriff's Office with up to a 10-percent
88pay adjustment downward.
89     (d)  The new rank of the individuals shall be the permanent
90rank of the individuals for a period of 6 months and then may be
91later changed by independent disciplinary action.
92     (e)  Initial actions taken pursuant to this subsection
93affecting the Lieutenants and above and other Executive
94Positions of Trust and within the guidelines of section 3 shall
95not be subject to appeal under section 4.
96     (4)  ADMINISTRATION.--
97     (a)  The Sheriff shall have the authority to adopt such
98rules and regulations as are necessary for the implementation
99and administration of this act.
100     (b)  The promulgation of rules and regulations related to
101this act by the Sheriff are at his or her sole discretion;
102however, nothing in this act shall be construed as affecting the
103budget-making powers of the Board of County Commissioners of
104Columbia County.
105     Section 2.  Complaints against employees; procedure.--
106     (1)  A complaint receipt and processing procedure shall be
107established in order to provide adequately for the prompt
108receipt, investigation, and disposition of complaints against
109members of the Columbia County Sheriff's Office. The complaint
110procedure shall reflect the provisions in section 112.532,
111Florida Statutes.
112     (2)  After written receipt of the disposition of the
113complaint, if an employee is dissatisfied with the decision of
114the Sheriff regarding disciplinary action resulting in
115termination of employment, the employee may appeal the action to
116the Career Service Appeal Board.
117     Section 3.  Disciplinary appeal procedure.--
118     (1)  An appeal of disciplinary action resulting in
119termination of employment shall result in the opportunity for a
120hearing before a Career Service Appeal Board as specified in
121said procedure.
122     (2)  Immediately following the hearing, the board shall
123report to the Sheriff via the Director of Human Resources or
124other person so designated by the Sheriff.
125     Section 4.  Career Service Appeal Board; creation;
126membership; duties.--
127     (1)  FUNCTION OF BOARD.--
128     (a)  An ad hoc Career Service Appeal Board shall be
129appointed as provided herein for the purpose of hearing appeals
130from career employees brought under the provisions of this act
131or the Sheriff's Office rules or policies which result in
132termination of employment.
133     (b)  A board may also, upon the request of the Sheriff,
134provide assistance and advice to the Sheriff in matters
135concerning disciplinary actions and may take any other actions
136as authorized by the Sheriff.
137     (2)  MEMBERSHIP OF BOARD.--
138     (a)  When needed upon the call of the Sheriff or the filing
139of an appeal of a termination of employment, an ad hoc Career
140Service Appeal Board shall be appointed. The membership of each
141such board shall consist of two members selected by the Sheriff
142from among any full-time eligible employees from within the
143Sheriff's Office; two members selected by the employee filing
144the appeal from among any full-time eligible employees within
145the Sheriff's Office; and one member, who is a full-time
146eligible member from within the Columbia County Sheriff's
147Office, selected by the other members of the board, who shall
148serve as chairperson.
149     (b)  If a noncertified member requests an appeal, the two
150members selected by the noncertified member may be from among
151any full-time eligible employees from any division of the
152Sheriff's Office.
153     (c)  The appealing member shall have 7 calendar days from
154the date that the request for a hearing was delivered directly
155to the Sheriff, or to one of the Administrative Assistants in
156the Sheriff's Office, to select two qualified members willing to
157serve as members of the board and deliver their names directly
158to Human Resources. If, within the 7-day period, the appealing
159member fails to submit the names of two qualified members as
160outlined in this paragraph and paragraphs (a) and (b) who have
161been contacted and are willing to serve, the option to be heard
162by a Career Service Appeal Board is procedurally waived and
163ceases to exist.
164     (d)  The Sheriff shall, within this same 7-day period,
165deliver to Human Resources the names of his or her two
166selections to serve as members of the board. If, within the 7-
167day period, the Sheriff fails to submit the names of two
168qualified members as outlined in this paragraph and paragraph
169(a), the action against the employee is procedurally waived and
170ceases to exist.
171     (e)  The four members shall then have 5 calendar days to
172select the fifth member from the list of remaining qualified
174     (f)  If an impartial chairperson cannot be agreed upon
175within 5 calendar days after the first four members are
176selected, a judge from within the Third Circuit of the state
177shall, within 5 days, appoint a chairperson who is a full-time
178eligible member within the Columbia County Sheriff's Office.
179     (g)  The ranking officer or his or her designee in charge
180of personnel matters shall serve as an ex officio member of the
181board for the purpose of providing procedural guidance to the
182board concerning the application of this act and any rules or
183regulations of this act and any rules or regulations adopted by
184the Sheriff relating thereto, but such ex officio member shall
185have no vote.
186     (h)  The Sheriff may, on his or her own initiative, appoint
187a Career Service Appeal Board for the purpose of receiving,
188considering, and making a recommendation on matters related to
189the formation or streamlining of rules related to this act or to
190consider any other matter deemed appropriate by the Sheriff,
191excluding disciplinary termination of employment. If the issue
192to be under consideration involves a specific member of the
193Sheriff's Office and may result in some disciplinary
194recommendation by the board, the Sheriff shall notify the
195individual and offer the opportunity for the individual to
196provide two members to the board to consider the specific
197question at issue. If no specific member is involved, the
198Sheriff shall appoint two members from the Civil Division and
199two members from the Criminal Division, and the Captain of the
200Administrative Division shall serve as the chairperson. A board
201appointed by initiative may only make recommendations.
204     (a)  Standardized dates and times of meetings shall be
205established by rule and shall occur during normal administrative
206office hours.
207     (b)  Members selected to serve on the board shall serve
208without additional compensation for meetings occurring during
209their normal work hours. For nonwork hours, compensatory time at
210the rate of 150 percent for the actual hours in session shall be
211credited to the member.
212     (c)  Once selected to the board, the members thereof shall
213serve until final action is taken with respect to the purpose
214for which the board was selected, at which time the board shall
215be dissolved.
216     (d)  A new Career Service Appeal Board shall be selected
217for each separate occurrence; however, multiple parties filing
218appeals on the same incident may request to be heard by a single
220     (e)  A person may not serve as a member of an ad hoc Career
221Service Appeal Board who:
222     1.  Was involved in the original incident that resulted in
223the disciplinary process that is the subject of the appeal.
224     2.  Is related to the appellant.
225     3.  Is currently under investigation or suspension.
226     4.  Has any ongoing litigation against the Columbia County
227Sheriff's Office.
228     5.  Is on probation or has received sustained discipline
229within the past year.
231     (a)  An appeal of an action specified in section 3 shall be
232made to the Sheriff in writing and must be received by the
233Sheriff no later than 5 calendar days after the employee is
234notified of the action on which the appeal is based.
235     (b)  When a Career Service Appeal Board has been selected
236for purposes of hearing the appeal, the Sheriff shall publish
237and furnish notice to the appealing person of the date,
238location, and time of the hearing before the Career Service
239Appeal Board. In any case, the date of the hearing shall be
240within 15 calendar days, excluding weekends and holidays, after
241notification of the selection of the fifth member.
242     (c)  The date of the hearing may be extended by mutual
243agreement of the parties.
244     (d)  During the hearing, the employee filing the appeal
245shall have the right to be heard, to be represented by a person
246of his or her choice, and to present any relevant evidence on
247his or her behalf, and during the hearing the technical rules of
248evidence shall not apply.
249     (e)  The board shall, in the conduct of a hearing, have the
250power to administer oaths, issue subpoenas, compel the
251attendance of witnesses, and require the production of books,
252records, accounts, papers, documents, prior statements,
253testimony, and investigative files related to the issue that are
254in the possession of or have been delivered to Human Resources a
255minimum of 5 business days prior to the beginning of the
256hearing. In case of disobedience of any person to comply with an
257order of the board or a subpoena issued by the board, or upon
258the refusal of a witness to testify on any matter regarding
259which he may be lawfully interrogated, a County Judge of the
260county in which a person resides, upon application of a member
261of the board, shall compel obedience by proceeding as for
262contempt. Each witness who appears in obedience to a subpoena
263before the board shall receive compensation for attendance fees
264and mileage as provided for witnesses in civil cases in the
265courts of this state. Such payments shall be made by the party
266calling the witness, except that with respect to any witnesses
267called by the board, payments shall be made by the Sheriff upon
268presentation of proper vouchers and approval by three members of
269the board. In any case, the board shall restrict its
270considerations and deliberations to the evidence presented at
271the hearing.
272     (f)  This board is not governed by the Administrative
273Procedure Act, as codified in chapter 120, Florida Statutes.
275     (a)  The board shall, by majority vote, dispose of the
276appeal for which it was appointed by making a determination of
277just cause and issuing a written decision. Such decision shall
278be based upon the simple determination of a preponderance of
279evidence (51 percent). In the instance of an appeal to the board
280concerning a termination, a majority vote of the board shall be
281required to overturn the Sheriff's decision to terminate. All
282members of the board must be present to conduct any official
283business of the board.
284     (b)  If the board does not sustain the action by the
285Sheriff, back pay and benefits shall be reinstated. No board
286shall have the authority to impose on any employee any penalty
287that is different than that which formed the basis of the
288appeal. If the board sustains the action of the Sheriff, it may
289also make a recommendation to the Sheriff to reconsider
290mitigating circumstances and reconsider the termination-of-
291employment action. The Sheriff shall review the determination of
292the board and consider its recommendation prior to imposition of
293final action.
294     (c)  The decision of the board, which is to be arrived at
295by paper ballot, shall be forwarded to the Sheriff.
296     (d)  This final decision of the board shall be binding on
297the employee and the Sheriff.
298     (e)  The Sheriff shall prepare, or cause to be prepared, an
299order and publish the final disposition of the appeal. The final
300disposition shall be binding on the employee.
301     (f)  The board hearing and the board's deliberations shall
302be open to the public, recorded, and preserved for the public
304     (g)  The chairperson of the board shall have the authority
305to receive and consider written prehearing motions that shall be
306presented to the full board at the hearing. He or she shall
307preside over the hearing, enforce the decorum of the hearing,
308receive requests for breaks, convene the deliberations, and
309cause the removal of anyone attempting to disrupt any of the
311     Section 5.  Upon enactment.--
312     (1)  INCLUDED INDIVIDUALS.--All full-time certified and
313noncertified persons in the employ of the Columbia County
314Sheriff's Office on the effective date of this act who have
315served for a period of 1 calendar year or more and successfully
316completed their probationary period as of such effective date of
317the act shall be career employees subject to the provisions of
318this act. All other full-time employees shall become career
319employees subject to the provisions of this act upon reaching
320their 1-calendar-year service anniversary date and successfully
321completing their probationary period.
322     (2)  CIRCUMVENTION.--
323     (a)  Promotions or demotions of members or creation of rank
324to circumvent the intent of this act shall be held as a valid
325reason to request the Sheriff to appoint a Career Service
326Appeals Board to consider the issue in question.
327     (b)  No certified or noncertified full-time employee of the
328Columbia County Sheriff's Office shall be discharged or
329discriminated against in regard to his or her employment or
330appointment, or threatened with any such treatment, by reason of
331his or her exercise of the rights granted by this act.
332     Section 6.  Exclusions.--
333     (1)  The career status provisions of this act shall not
334apply to the Sheriff; to Special Deputy Sheriffs appointed
335pursuant to section 30.09(4), Florida Statutes; to members
336employed pursuant to a grant whose continued existence or
337funding is subject to the expiration or withdrawal of the grant;
338to nondisciplinary termination of employment arising out of a
339reduction of force, layoff, or partial or total abolition or
340cessation of a program, service, operation, or department at the
341discretion of the Sheriff; to members of the Sheriff's Reserve
342Unit; or to individuals appointed as part-time Deputy Sheriffs,
343as defined by the Criminal Justice Standards and Training
344Commission, unless any such person is also employed full-time by
345the Columbia County Sheriff's Office.
346     (2)  This act shall not apply to an otherwise covered
347person who claims that a termination of employment was for
348lawful off-duty political activity. Claims of this nature are
349already covered under chapter 30, Florida Statutes.
350     (3)  This act shall not apply to an otherwise covered
351person who claims that a termination of employment was for
352discriminatory purposes. Claims of this nature are already
353covered under state and federal statutes.
354     Section 7.  Severability.--The provisions of this act shall
355be severable and, if any of the provisions shall be
356unconstitutional, the decision of the court shall not affect the
357validity of the remaining provisions. It is hereby declared to
358be the intent of the Legislature that this act would have been
359adopted had such unconstitutional provision not been included
361     Section 8.  This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.

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