Montgomery, AL – A legislative committee is trying to make sure merit system employees aren't the first to lose their jobs in the current budget crisis. The Senate Economic Expansion and Trade Committee approved a bill today that would require state agencies to lay off contract employees first. Senator Roger Bedford proposed the bill. He says he submitted it because there is a good chance layoffs will affect several state agencies. Bedford says contract employees should be released before veteran state workers are laid off. The bill passed the committee four-to-nothing and now goes to the full Senate for consideration.