State’s Attorney Changes Eyed

ANNAPOLIS – Called a routine housekeeping
measure, a bill introduced in the Maryland General Assembly this week would
alter certain policies and practices of the Worcester County
State’s Attorney’s Office
and define its workers as employees of the state’s attorney and not the county
among other things.

State Delegates James Mathias and Norm Conway introduced
the legislation, expected to be a local courtesy bill, this week. Basically,
the intent of the legislation is to more clearly define the powers of the
state’s attorney in Worcester
County in matters such as
hiring and retaining employees, compensation and benefits, discipline, and
other various functions similar to other department heads.

“It’s a housekeeping bill and we filed it at the request
of the state’s attorney,” said Mathias. “It codifies some of the language
related to his office and accomplishes among other things keeping people in
place in their jobs. We did a similar bill last year for the sheriff’s office.”

Among other things, the bill allows the state’s attorney
to hire clerical, secretarial and office employees as needed, on approval of
the County Commissioners. However, the bill clearly
states all employees of the office are employees of the state’s attorney’s
office and not of the county commissioners. The bill does say the State’s
Attorney’s Office employees are subject to the personnel rules and regulations
adopted by the commissioners for other county employees, but the state’s attorney
may adopt office practices, manuals, rules of conduct and other procedures
apart from the rules for county employees adopted by the commissioners.

The proposed legislation says the state’s attorney,
currently Joel Todd, shall perform the appointment, disciplinary, termination
and managerial functions for all employees of his office who are covered by the
rules and regulations adopted by the commissioners. However, the state’s
attorney may adopt rules and regulations for his or her employees separate from
the rules for other county employees.

Another section of the bill separates the definitions for
clerical, secretarial and other office employees from the appointed attorneys
working in the office, who are subject to different rules as bar association
members.

Yet another section of the bill appears to protect State’s
Attorney’s Office employees if and when there is a new state’s attorney hired.
The section reads “when a new state’s attorney takes office, or at the
beginning of a new term, all clerical, secretarial, office and other employees
except for deputy and assistant state’s attorneys shall remain in their
positions and shall be considered rehired.”

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