Whistleblower Protection Act heard in Senate committee

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Senate Bill 786, whcih would create the "Missouri Whistleblower Protection Act," was presented to the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee Monday afternoon.

It's a bill that would strengthen the rights and protections of public employees who report misconduct of governmental agencies and officials in the state.

It is sponsored by Senator Jill Schupp, a St. Louis Democrat, who says last year, those protections of whistleblowers were weakened by a Senate bill signed by Governor Eric Greitens.

"This bill lays out damages whistleblowers can receive for retaliation or wrongful termination, and it also protects whistleblowers who were retaliated against by requiring the agency or office in question to prove that the disciplinary action they imposed was not in response to the whistleblowers exposing the truth," Schupp said to the committee.

Schupp had four people testify in support of her bill, one of which was a St. Louis attorney. He explained what potential whistleblowers are currently faced with, and how it would change under this new bill.

"Do I come forward and report the illegal conduct and risk my job? Or, do I keep quiet so I can keep my job," said Jonathon Burns, a St. Louis attorney in regards to the current law. "When somebody has the knowledge that they can bring forward some type of illegal activity, and know that they have protection to do so, they're more likely to find the courage to come forward."

State Auditor Nicole Galloway tweeted out her support of the bill, and urged anyone who sees any malpractice by state agencies or officials to call the whistleblower hotline at 1-800-347-8597 or submit concerns anonymously at auditor.mo.gov/hotline.

Read the original version of this article at www.ky3.com.