1997 Regular Session
To: Judiciary A; Appropriations
By: Representative Reeves
House Bill 367
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 9-1-36, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO AUTHORIZE THE ACCRUAL OF LEAVE BY COURT ADMINISTRATORS AT THE SAME RATE AS STATE EMPLOYEES, TO REQUIRE THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF COURTS TO PROMULGATE SALARY SCHEDULES FOR COURT ADMINISTRATORS, AND TO PROVIDE FOR PAYMENT OF MILEAGE EXPENSES FOR LAW CLERKS AND LEGAL RESEARCH ASSISTANTS; TO AMEND SECTION 9-17-1, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE OFFICE OF COURT ADMINISTRATOR FOR EACH CIRCUIT, CHANCERY AND COUNTY COURT JUDGE, TO AUTHORIZE THE APPOINTMENT OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR AND ANY DEPUTY COURT ADMINISTRATORS BY THE JUDGES, AND TO PROVIDE THAT STATE GENERAL FUND MONIES MAY NOT BE USED TO PAY THE SALARIES OF COUNTY COURT ADMINISTRATORS; TO AMEND SECTION 25-9-107, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO INCLUDE COURT ADMINISTRATORS IN THE STATE SERVICE; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 9-1-36, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
9-1-36. (1) Each circuit judge and chancellor shall receive an office operating allowance for the expenses of operating the office of such judge, including retaining a law clerk, legal research, stenographic help, stationery, stamps, furniture, office equipment, telephone, office rent and other items and expenditures necessary and incident to maintaining the office of judge. The allowance shall be paid only to the extent of actual expenses incurred by any the judge as itemized and certified by such judge to the Supreme Court and then in an amount of not more than Four Thousand Dollars ($4,000.00) per annum; however, the judge may expend sums in excess thereof from the compensation otherwise provided for his office. No part of this expense or allowance shall be used to pay an official court reporter for services rendered to the court.
(2) In addition to the amounts provided for in subsection (1), there is * * * created a separate office allowance fund for the purpose of providing support staff to judges. This fund shall be managed by the Administrative Office of Courts.
(3) Each judge who desires to employ support staff after July 1, 1994, shall make application to the Administrative Office of Courts by submitting to the Administrative Office of Courts a proposed personnel plan setting forth what support staff is deemed necessary. The plan may be submitted by a single judge or by any combination of judges desiring to share support staff. In the process of the preparation of the plan, the judges, at their request, may receive advice, suggestions, recommendations and other assistance from the Administrative Office of Courts. The Administrative Office of Courts must approve the positions, job descriptions and salaries before the positions may be filled. The Administrative Office of Courts shall not approve any plan which does not first require the expenditure of the funds in the support staff fund for compensation of any of the support staff before expenditure is authorized of county funds for that purpose. Upon approval by the Administrative Office of Courts, the judge or judges may appoint the employees to the position or positions * * *.
Court administrators shall be included in the state service, as defined in Section 25-9-107. Notwithstanding that all persons appointed will be employees of the Administrative Office of Courts, persons other than court administrators shall work at the will and pleasure of the judge or judges who appointed them. Upon approval by the Administrative Office of Courts, the appointment of any support staff shall be evidenced by the entry of an order on the minutes of the court. When support staff is appointed jointly by two (2) or more judges, the order setting forth any appointment shall be entered on the minutes of each participating court.
Any court administrator serving on July 1, 1997, shall receive credit for all accumulated unused sick or personal leave, or both, accrued before July 1, 1997, as a county employee, not to exceed the accrual rate limitations prescribed in Sections 25-3-93 and 25-3-95. From and after July 1, 1997, each court administrator shall be allowed personal and sick leave at the accrual rates established in Sections 25-3-93 and 25-3-95, and each month of continuous service as a county employee before July 1, 1994, shall be considered when determining the accrual rate for each court administrator.
(4) The Administrative Office of Courts shall develop and promulgate minimum qualifications for the certification of court administrators. Any court administrator appointed on or after October 1, 1996, shall be required to be certified by the Administrative Office of Courts.
(5) The Administrative Office of Courts shall develop and promulgate salary schedules for all circuit, chancery and county court administrators. The schedules shall provide for the consideration of different factors in establishing a court administrator's salary, including the individual's length of service with the court, education, experience in the legal profession and any other information deemed to be relevant by the Administrative Office of Courts.
(6) Support staff other than court administrators shall receive compensation pursuant to personnel policies established by the Administrative Office of Courts; however, from and after July 1, 1994, the Administrative Office of Courts shall allocate from the support staff fund an amount not to exceed Forty Thousand Dollars ($40,000.00) per fiscal year (July 1 through June 30) per judge for whom support staff is approved for the funding of support staff assigned to a judge or judges. Any employment pursuant to this subsection shall be subject to the provisions of Section 25-1-53.
The Administrative Office of Courts may approve expenditure from the fund for additional equipment for support staff appointed pursuant to this section in any year in which the allocation per judge is sufficient to meet the equipment expense after provision for the compensation of the support staff.
(7) For the purposes of this section, the following terms shall have the meaning ascribed herein unless the context clearly requires otherwise:
(a) "Judges" means circuit judges and chancellors, or any combination thereof;
(b) "Support staff" means court administrators, law clerks, legal research assistants or secretaries, or any combination thereof * * *;
(c) "Compensation" means the gross salary plus all amounts paid for benefits or otherwise as a result of employment or as required by employment; * * * however, * * * only salary earned for services rendered shall be reported and credited for Public Employees' Retirement System purposes. Amounts paid for benefits or otherwise, including reimbursement for travel expenses, shall not be reported or credited for retirement purposes.
(8) Title to all tangible property, excepting stamps, stationery and minor expendable office supplies, procured with funds authorized by this section, shall be and forever remain in the State of Mississippi to be used by the circuit judge or chancellor during the term of his office and thereafter by his successors.
(9) Any circuit judge or chancellor who did not have a primary office provided by the county on March 1, 1988, shall be allowed an additional Four Thousand Dollars ($4,000.00) per annum to defray the actual expenses incurred by such judge or chancellor in maintaining an office; however, any circuit judge or chancellor who had a primary office provided by the county on March 1, 1988, and who vacated the office space after such date for a legitimate reason, as determined by the Department of Finance and Administration, shall be allowed the additional office expense allowance provided under this subsection.
(10) The Supreme Court, through the Administrative Office of Courts, shall submit to the Department of Finance and Administration the itemized and certified expenses for office operating allowances that are directed to the court pursuant to this section.
(11) The Supreme Court, through the Administrative Office of Courts, shall have the power to adopt rules and regulations regarding the administration of the office operating allowance authorized pursuant to this section.
(12) For all travel required in the performance of official duties, the law clerks and legal research assistants shall be paid mileage by the county or counties for which the duties were performed at the rate provided for state employees in Section 25-3-41. The law clerk or legal research assistant shall file a certificate of mileage expense incurred during that term with the board of supervisors of each participating county, and payment of the mileage expense shall be made proportionately out of the court administration fund established pursuant to Section 9-17-5.
SECTION 2. Section 9-17-1, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
9-17-1. (1) The circuit, chancery and county court judges shall establish the Office of Court Administrator in each circuit, chancery and county court district by an order entered on the minutes of each circuit, chancery and county court in the district, which shall consist of one (1) court administrator for each circuit, chancery and county court district with responsibility for preparation of all budgetary matters and supervision of all support staff of the circuit, chancery and county court district. The appointment of the court administrator shall be accomplished by vote of a majority of the participating judges in the district, and the court administrator may be removed by a majority vote of the judges. In case of a tie vote, the senior judge shall cast two (2) votes.
(2) The judges and chancellors of judicial districts, including chancery, circuit and county courts, * * * in their discretion and with the approval of the Administrative Office of Courts, jointly or independently, may appoint deputy court administrators in any judicial district by an order entered on the minutes of each participating court in the district. The appointment of such deputy court administrators shall be accomplished by vote of a majority of the participating judges or chancellors in the district, and any such deputy court administrator shall be appointed by vote of a majority of the judges or chancellors and may be removed by a majority vote of the judges or chancellors. In case of a tie vote, the senior judge or senior chancellor shall cast two (2) votes.
(3) The court administrator shall be provided office space in the same manner as such is afforded the judges and chancellors.
(4) The annual salary of each court administrator appointed pursuant to this section shall be set by vote of the judges and chancellors of each participating county consistent with the salary schedules promulgated by the Administrative Office of Courts and shall be submitted to the Administrative Office of Courts for approval pursuant to Section 9-1-36. The salary shall be paid in twelve (12) installments on the last working day of the month by the Administrative Office of Courts after it has been authorized by the participating judges and chancellors and an order has been duly placed on the minutes of each participating court.
Any county within a judicial district having a court administrator and any deputy court administrators shall transfer to the Administrative Office of Courts one-twelfth (1/12) of its pro rata cost of authorized compensation as defined in Section 9-1-36 for the court administrator by the twentieth day of each month for the compensation that is to be paid on the last day of that month. The board of supervisors may transfer the pro rata cost of the county from the funds of that county pursuant to Section 9-17-5(2)(b).
No monies from the State General Fund shall be used to pay the salary of any county court administrator or any deputy county court administrator.
(5) For all travel required in the performance of official duties, the court administrator or deputy court administrator shall be paid mileage by the county in which the duties were performed at the same rate as provided for state employees in Section 25-3-41, Mississippi Code of 1972. The court administrator or deputy court administrator shall file a certificate of mileage expense incurred during that term with the board of supervisors of each participating county and payment of such expense shall be paid proportionately out of the court administration fund established pursuant to Section 9-17-5.
SECTION 3. Section 25-9-107, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
25-9-107. The following terms, when used in this chapter, unless a different meaning is plainly required by the context, shall have the following meanings:
(a) "Board" shall mean the State Personnel Board created under the provisions of this chapter.
(b) "State service" shall mean all employees of state departments, agencies and institutions as defined herein, except those officers and employees excluded by this chapter.
(c) "Nonstate service" shall mean the following officers and employees excluded from the state service by this chapter. The following are excluded from the state service:
(i) Members of the State Legislature, their staffs and other employees of the legislative branch;
(ii) The Governor and staff members of the immediate Office of the Governor;
(iii) Justices and judges of the judicial branch, excluding court reporters appointed under Section 9-1-36, or members of appeals boards on a per diem basis;
(iv) The Lieutenant Governor, staff members of the immediate Office of the Lieutenant Governor and officers and employees directly appointed by the Lieutenant Governor;
(v) Officers and officials elected by popular vote and persons appointed to fill vacancies in elective offices;
(vi) Members of boards and commissioners appointed by the Governor, Lieutenant Governor or the State Legislature;
(vii) All academic officials, members of the teaching staffs and employees of the state institutions of higher learning, the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges, and community and junior colleges;
(viii) Officers and enlisted members of the National Guard of the state;
(ix) Prisoners, inmates, student or patient help working in or about institutions;
(x) Contract personnel; provided, that any agency which employs state service employees may enter into contracts for personal and professional services only with the prior written approval of the State Personnel Director. The State Personnel Director shall disapprove such contracts where the services to be provided could reasonably be performed by an employee in an authorized employment position. Prior to paying any warrant for such contractual services, the Auditor of Public Accounts, or the successor to those duties, shall determine whether the contract involved was for personal or professional services, and, if so, shall determine whether it was properly submitted to the State Personnel Director and approved; * * * however, * * * physicians, dentists, architects, engineers, veterinarians, attorneys and utility rate experts who are employed for the purposes of professional services, and other specialized technical services related to facilities maintenance, shall be excluded from the provisions of this paragraph;
(xi) Part-time employees; * * * however, part-time employees shall only be hired into authorized employment positions classified by the board, shall meet minimum qualifications as set by the board, and shall be paid in accordance with the Variable Compensation Plan as certified by the board;
(xii) Persons appointed on an emergency basis for the duration of the emergency; the effective date of the emergency appointments shall not be earlier than the date approved by the State Personnel Director, and shall be limited to thirty (30) working days. Emergency appointments may be extended to sixty (60) working days by the State Personnel Board;
(xiii) Physicians, dentists, veterinarians, nurse practitioners and attorneys, while serving in their professional capacities in authorized employment positions who are required by statute to be licensed, registered or otherwise certified as such, provided that the State Personnel Director shall verify that the statutory qualifications are met prior to issuance of a payroll warrant by the Auditor;
(xiv) Personnel who are employed and paid from funds received from a federal grant program which has been approved by the Legislature or the Department of Finance and Administration whose length of employment has been determined to be time-limited in nature. This subparagraph shall apply to personnel employed under the provisions of the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act of 1973, as amended, and other special federal grant programs which are not a part of regular federally funded programs wherein appropriations and employment positions are appropriated by the Legislature. Such employees shall be paid in accordance with the Variable Compensation Plan and shall meet all qualifications required by federal statutes or by the Mississippi Classification Plan;
(xv) The administrative head who is in charge of any state department, agency, institution, board or commission, wherein the statute specifically authorizes the Governor, board, commission or other authority to appoint said administrative head; * * * however, * * * the salary of such administrative head shall be determined by the State Personnel Board in accordance with the Variable Compensation Plan unless otherwise fixed by statute;
(xvi) The State Personnel Board shall exclude top level positions if the incumbents determine and publicly advocate substantive program policy and report directly to the agency head, or the incumbents are required to maintain a direct confidential working relationship with a key excluded official. * * * A written job classification shall be approved by the board for each such position, and positions so excluded shall be paid in conformity with the Variable Compensation Plan;
(xvii) Employees whose employment is solely in connection with an agency's contract to produce, store or transport goods, and whose compensation is derived therefrom;
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(xviii) The associate director, deputy directors and bureau directors within the Department of Agriculture and Commerce.
(d) "Agency" means any state board, commission, committee, council, department or unit thereof created by the Constitution or statutes if such board, commission, committee, council, department, unit or the head thereof, is authorized to appoint subordinate staff by the Constitution or statute, except a legislative or judicial board, commission, committee, council, department or unit thereof.
SECTION 4. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.