California State Senate Republicans Pass Whistleblower Protection Bill to Protect Capitol Staff

February 1, 2018

SACRAMENTO – Today all state Senate Republicans voted for Assembly Bill 403 (link is external) (R-Melendez), the Legislative Employee Whistleblower Protection Act. All 13 members also co-authored the bill, which will extend to legislative employees the same protections state workers already receive under the California Whistleblower Protection Act.

Senate Republican Leader Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel)

“As a co-author of Assemblywoman Melendez’s bill, I’m encouraged that the Senate has recognized that business as usual is not going to cut it anymore. No one should ever have to sacrifice their livelihoods for courageously reporting sexual harassment and other wrongdoing, and I hope this bill will be signed into law this year.

“Assemblywoman Melendez deserves tremendous credit for resisting repeated attempts to bury her bill over the past four years. She – along with bipartisan allies in the capital community – persisted in pushing this bill through the Senate. The simple truth is that if it wasn’t for their determined efforts, today’s vote would never have happened.”

Senator Joel Anderson (R-Alpine)

“I’m grateful for the author’s persistence on behalf of women working in the Capitol. Had leadership been open to protecting people from harassment and allowed any of the prior years’ versions of the Whistleblower Protection Act out of Appropriations, fewer people would be in the “#MeToo” movement today.”

Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres)

“Those who work in the people’s house should have the same protections from harassment or any other inappropriate behavior as state and private-sector workers. Victims need to feel safe in their workplace and secure that reporting bad behavior will be free from retribution. As a co-author of Assembly Bill 403, I believe that can be accomplished through this measure.”

Senator Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield)

“No one should ever find it necessary to be silent about reporting questionable behavior by legislators or legislative staff.  This legislation is required because for too long staff has not had the basic protections needed to feel secure when reporting unethical activities or inappropriate behavior in the workplace.

“It is our job as legislators to protect those who cannot protect themselves, and to provide an environment free from retaliation, harassment and intimidation.”   

Senator Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado)

“Legislative whistleblowers should not fear intimidation or job loss for reporting harassment or abuse. I want the legislature to be a shining example for employees, lobbyists, and legislators themselves, and giving workers long-overdue protections will help us build a capitol where everyone can thrive in a safe, lawful, just environment.”

Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa)

“Any step forward to clean up a serious problem in this house is a step that I will support. I voted in favor of AB 403 to affirm the good work Assemblymember Melissa Melendez has tirelessly pursued. I’m only sorry that it took so long to vote for this on the Senate Floor.”

Senator Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga)

“No legislative employee should fear losing his or her job for reporting sexual harassment or misconduct. I am proud to be a coauthor of this measure and commend Assemblywoman Melendez for her tenacity in getting the bill through. There is no reason it should have taken this long to give staff assurance that they will not face retribution for doing what is right.” 

Senator Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove)

“The bravery of those who stepped forward to report sexual harassment at the State Capitol has highlighted the critical need for strong protections for legislative employees. No one should be subjected to harassment and much less have to worry about retaliation for reporting their abuser. AB 403 marks the beginning of a series of critical reforms that need to take place to clear the toxic cloud created by sexual harassment at the State Capitol and I am proud to serve as the bill’s co-author.”

Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama)

“Employees – whether they work for the Legislature or a government agency - must have the protection to report wrong-doing.”

Senator Jeff Stone (R-Riverside County)

“It’s nice to see the Senate is finally acting on this legislation authored by Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez.  Sexual harassment and discrimination should not be protected, promoted or condoned by anybody; and this legislation is a long overdue step that until recent events has been stopped by the Democrat leaders in the State Senate.”  

Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford)

“The Capitol should be a safe working environment for women that is free of harassment and retaliation, and today’s vote is a step towards making that a reality. I want to thank Assemblymember Melissa Melendez for her tireless work over the last four years to get this bill passed.”

Senator Scott Wilk (R-Antelope Valley)

“All state workers should be afforded the same protections when reporting something amiss in the workplace.  Legislative employees, like other state workers, should have a fair, safe and unbiased reporting process.”