Portantino’s Bill To Expand Whistleblower Protections Passes Key Committee

Assemblymember Anthony Portantino’s bill to provide Legislative staffers with the same protections from retaliation as other state employees has passed its first legislative hurdle.

AB 1378 was approved this week by the Assembly Judiciary Committee on a unanimous vote.

The bill marks the first time legislative employees will have legal protection from reprisals for reporting government wrongdoing such as waste or abuse. It’s part of Assemblymember Portantino’s broader efforts to ensure  openness, transparency and accountability in state government.

“This is another self-serving protection that the legislature enacted that needs to be repealed. Workers should know that when they do the right thing they won’t have to face the threat of retaliation. Repealing this exemption show’s we are serious about finding waste and fraud. It’s the right thing to do,” commented Portantino.

Each year, Californians report waste, fraud, violations of law and political corruption. When they do the right thing, they are protected from retaliation under the California Whistleblower Protection Act. In most state houses in the nation those who witness and report these abuses are also covered with protection. Not in California. Folks who work for the State Legislature have no such protection. AB 1378 will change this disparity.

AB 1378 would require the Rules Committees of both the Assembly and Senate to designate an officer to receive written complaints and the state Auditor would then investigate those complaints. Those found guilty of retaliation could face fines up to $10,000 and a year in county jail.

The bill now goes to Assembly Appropriations later this month.

Portantino has represented the 44th Assembly District since his election to the Assembly in November 2006. The 44th Assembly District includes the communities of Altadena, Duarte, La Cañada Flintridge, Pasadena, South Pasadena and Temple City. It also includes portions of Arcadia, Monrovia, Mayflower Village, and the Los Angeles communities of Eagle Rock, Glassell Park, Highland Park, and Mount Washington.

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