TOPEKA, Kan. — Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration says it intends to withdraw a proposed regulation limiting the amount of sick leave state workers could donate to peers and a rule reducing the opportunity to appeal annual employee evaluation ratings.

Officials say the decision was made based on feedback.

But the Topeka Capital-Journal ( ) reports that the Kansas Department of Administration will go forward with other amendments, including establishing an exemption from layoffs for select employees regardless of performance scores, overriding a process entitling laid-off staff to priority status when rehiring occurs and authorizing paid administrative leave to be used as a reward mechanism.

State officials say the changes are an attempt to make the terms and conditions of state government employment more comparable to the private sector.

“State employment is not a game of favorites,” Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services employee Kyle Nuckolls said. “These changes are a complete and utter slap in the face of longtime state employees.”

During the policy hearing, Kansas Department for Children and Families employee Irene Soto said removing civil service protections allowed gubernatorial administrations to move away from merit-based analysis of workers and toward action linked to political affiliation, friendships, age and other measures.

“Do I think the decisions will be made without bias? In all honesty, no,” Soto said.

Rebecca Porter, Executive Director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, said the Department of Administration should focus on improving employee recruitment and retention at state agencies. She said the state government had more than 100 job vacancies in Shawnee County alone.

“Instead of pursuing changes that make it easier for our workforce to be politicized and for people to be laid off, there should be more of a focus on how does the state of Kansas become the employer of choice again,” she said.

Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal,