Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, announced his Senate Bill 947 has passed unanimously out of the Senate Committee on Judiciary. The bill provides heightened whistleblower protections to private sector employees who are working on California state contracts and has earned the National Whistleblower Center’s full support.
“I firmly believe that comprehensive protections for whistleblowers are a hallmark of a free, fair and transparent society,” Wilk said in a prepared statement. “I am glad that the Senate Judiciary Committee agreed and had enough confidence in my legislation to expand its scope to include all state contracts over $5 million.”
The need for such legislation became apparent last year when brave whistleblowers exposed a variety of unscrupulous activities at the Valencia Branch Laboratory that put public health and safety at risk, said the statement from Wilk’s office.
The state of California had a nearly $2 billion contract with Perkin Elmer to conduct COVID-19 testing at the lab, and despite the lab’s repeated failures to provide timely and adequate testing results, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration still went ahead and renewed the contract in October, the statement said. On March 31, the state began the process of cancelling its contract with Perkin Elmer.
The bill, as originally written, would have extended the same whistleblower protections afforded to state employees to private-sector employees employed by companies holding no-bid contracts over $25 million.
Wilk added, “Robust anti-retaliation and anti-interference protections for workers on California state contracts make it far more likely that the government, taxpayers, and in many cases, the authorities, are aware of any improprieties. The Valencia lab fiasco was exposed by whistleblowers, and eventually, the lab’s contract was canceled — a testament to the importance of the role of whistleblowers in exposing problems.”
SB 947 will next be heard next by the Senate Appropriations Committee.