The League of Women Voters strongly supports S.B. 1926 SD1 to expand the protection provided to public employees who report violations of the law, waste, and gross misconduct, incompetence, or inefficiency. We feel that the associated costs will be more than offset by the resulting elimination of reported violations. For perspective, we need only consider the extremely high cost of even a single safety or public health violation that causes injury or death.
Workers are often in the best positions to notice improper, illegal or just plain wrong practices by employers or other employees, and we agree that greater protection is necessary to encourage them to come forward with such information. Awareness and information are needed to help correct problem areas and ensure the efficiency and integrity of state and local government.
Even with the best legal protections in the world, whistleblowers may face covert efforts to punish them by employers and/or fellow employees. It takes a great deal of courage and concern for public good for an employee to report information on practices of a public agency that pose a danger to public health or safety, or waste, fraud or any abuse. The maximum legal protection should be available to encourage them to think and act for the public good.
We also agree with the enforcement jurisdiction being assigned to the department of labor and industrial relations, rather than the Ombudsman as in the original bill. This appears to be the logical and appropriate alignment of responsibility.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify in support of S.B. 1926.