BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






                                                       Bill No:  AB  
          418
          
                 SENATE COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATION
                       Senator Roderick D. Wright, Chair
                           2013-2014 Regular Session
                                 Staff Analysis



          AB 418  Author:  Mullin
          As Amended:  April 15, 2013
          Hearing Date:  June 25, 2013
          Consultant:  Paul Donahue


                                     SUBJECT  

             California Whistleblower Protection Act: Internet link

                                   DESCRIPTION
           
          1)Requires state agencies to post a specifically described  
            graphical Internet link referencing the State Auditor's  
            website location that contains information on how to file  
            a complaint pursuant to the California Whistleblower  
            Protection Act (Act). 

          2)Specifies that the Internet link shall include the phone  
            number that persons may use to make a complaint to the  
            State Auditor pursuant to the Act. 

                                   EXISTING LAW

           1)Establishes procedures under which a state employee may  
            report improper governmental activities or make a  
            protected disclosure to the State Auditor.

          2)Prohibits retaliation or reprisals against a state  
            employee for making a report. 

          3)Requires the State Auditor to investigate and report on  
            improper governmental activities, as defined.

                                    BACKGROUND
           





          AB 418 (Mullin) continued                                 
          PageB


           1)Purpose  : According to the author, although existing law  
            requires state offices to post notices regarding the  
            protections afforded state employees by the Act, "the  
            public is not made aware of the existence of the  
            [California Whistleblower Protection] Act through its  
            most visited state Internet websites."

           2)Background  : The Legislature enacted the California  
            Whistleblower Protection Act to protect the right of  
            state employees "to report waste, fraud, abuse of  
            authority, violation of law, or threat to public health  
            without fear of retribution."<1>

            The Act authorizes the State Auditor to receive and  
            investigate complaints of alleged improper governmental  
            activities, and also protects every state employee who  
            files a complaint from retaliation by his or her employer  
            for having made the complaint. State employees, internal  
            auditors of state agencies, and any persons obtaining  
            services from the State, including contractors who do  
            business with the state, and job applicants, may file a  
            complaint under the Act.

            According to the State Auditor's annual report, from  
            April 1, 2011, through June 30, 2012, the office received  
            7,238 calls or inquiries. Of these, 5,781 came through  
            the hotline, 891 through the mail, 559 through the  
            website, and 7 through individuals who visited the State  
            Auditor's office. 

                            PRIOR/RELATED LEGISLATION
           
          SB 496 (Wright), 2013-2014 Session. Protects whistleblower  
          employees by assuring them the procedural guarantees and  
          independent fact-finding taking place in a superior court  
          civil damages action, consistent with State Bd. of  
          Chiropractic Examiners v. Superior Court (Arbuckle) (2009)  
          45 Cal.4th 963. (Assembly Judiciary Committee)

          AB 1102 (Lara), Chapter 328 Statutes of 2011. Required any  
          agency that posts or advertises the opportunity to submit  
          whistleblower complaints through a program administered by  
          the agency, to also disclose the opportunity to submit  
          complaints to the State Auditor under the California  
          Whistleblower Protection Act.
          -------------------------
          <1> Gov. Code  8547.1





          AB 418 (Mullin) continued                                 
          PageC



          AB 1749 (Lowenthal), Chapter 160 Statutes of 2010. Extended  
          protections of the California Whistleblower Protection Act  
          to employees of the Judicial Branch, including the  
          Administrative Office of the Courts. 

          SB 413 (Speier), Chapter 883 Statutes of 2001. Required  
          every state agency to print and post a notice, as defined,  
          at state offices and send it by electronic mail to state  
          employees of the agency annually.

          AB 1412 (Wildman), Chapter 156 Statutes of 1999. Enacts the  
          Whistleblower Protection Act, prohibiting any state or  
          local governmental employee from interfering with the right  
          of any person to disclose an improper governmental activity  
          to an investigating committee of the Legislature.

           SUPPORT:   California State Retirees

           OPPOSE:    None on file

           FISCAL COMMITTEE:  Senate Appropriations Committee 
                                   **********