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SENATE BILL 951 (HAYDEN 1999)

CHAPTER 673, STATUTES OF 1999

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Government Code sections 8547, 8547.2, 8547.3, 8547.8, 8547.10 and 8547.12 were amended, and Government Code section 8547.1 was repealed and added in 1999 following legislative passage of Senate Bill 951, which affected these Government Code sections only.  (See Exhibit #1e)  Senate Bill 951 was introduced on February 25, 1999 by Senator Tom Hayden, who was also the sponsor of this measure.  (See Exhibit #1a and #3, page 1) 

 

Senate Bill 951 was assigned to the Senate Committee on Public Employment and Retirement and the Assembly Committee on Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security where policy issues raised by the bill were considered.  (See Exhibits #2, #3 and #9)  The fiscal ramifications of the bill were considered by the Senate and Assembly Committees on Appropriations.  (See Exhibits #2, #5 and #11) 

 

Only three amendments were made to Senate Bill 951, all three in the Assembly.  (See Exhibits #1b through #1d and #2)  Subsequent to legislative approval, Governor Gray Davis signed Senate Bill 951 on October 6, 1999, and it was recorded by the Secretary of State on October 10, 1999 as Chapter 673 of the Statutes of 1999.  (See Exhibits #1e and #2)

 

The Third Reading analysis of the bill as last amended August 30, 1999, prepared by the Assembly Committee on Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security, provided the following description of Senate Bill 951:

 

1)   Renames the “Reporting of Improper Governmental Activities Act” as the “California Whistleblower Protection Act” (Act).

 

2)   Defines, for purposes of this Act, “protected disclosure” as a good faith communication relating to the disclosure, or intended disclosure, of improper governmental activities that may significantly threaten the health or safety of employees or the public.

 

3)   Defines, for purposes of this Act, “illegal order” as any directive to violate or assist in violating a federal, state, or local law, rule or regulation or order to work, or cause others to work in unhealthy or unsafe conditions.

 

4)   Expands the current protection provided to employees who disclose improper governmental activities to the State Auditor to apply to state employees disclosing improper governmental activities to anyone or who refuse to obey an illegal order.

 

5)   Provides that if an employee can show that retaliation for whistleblowing was a contributing factor in an appointing power’s initialing an adverse action or civil proceeding against that employee, the burden of proof is imposed upon the appointing power to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the adverse action or civil proceeding would have been brought for legitimate, independent reasons, even if the employee had not engaged in protected disclosures or refused an illegal order.  If the appointing power fails to meet the burden of proof, the employee shall have a complete affirmative defense in the adverse action.

 

6)   Provides that this bill does not diminish the rights, privileges, or remedies of any employee under any other federal or state law or under any employment contract or collective bargaining agreement.

 

7)   Provides that nothing in the bill is intended to supersede or limit the right to make privileged publication or broadcast in an official proceeding with regard to information provided under the Act.

(See Exhibit #13b, page 1)