Push For Whistleblower Laws At California Capitol Has New Life

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A state assemblywoman is looking for a way to close a loophole exempting legislative staffers from whistleblower laws.

Every year since 2014, the state Senate has rejected a new law that would protect employees who report unethical, immoral, or inappropriate behavior.

“Why? I think it’s fairly obvious that it exposes them to unknown allegations,” said employment attorney Mary-Alice Coleman.

She has represented cases against the legislature and has testified for whistleblower protections. Instead, she’s seen women fired for reporting abuse.

But this year may be different.

Last month, more than 300 women signed a published letter, exposing shocking misconduct in California politics.

“Legislators…are doing things inappropriate, and in some, cases illegal,” said Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez.

She put her name on that list too. Since then, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, who’s running for U.S. Senate, announced he’s dropping his opposition to a revised whistleblower bill.

De Leon issued a statement reading in part,

“Part of that effort will be to strengthen existing whistleblower protections, including enshrining them in [a] statute to encourage victims to come forward.”

Other state senators declined to tell us why they previously blocked the proposed law.

But Melendez isn’t backing down.

“I told them when I first brought the bill forward that I would bring it every year until it was passed. And I meant it. I don’t know if they thought I meant it…but I did,” she said.

More from Lemor Abrams
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