Two new bills designed to strengthen government ethics and boost whistleblower protections have glided through the West Virginia House of Delegates.
House Judiciary Chairman John Shott introduced H.B. 2006 to toughen penalties on individuals who retaliate against state workers for providing regulators and other authorities with information concerning fraud or waste targeting government agencies.
West Virginia’s state whistleblower law prohibits retaliation against those who expose fraud and waste, but the fines for violating the law are flimsy. H.B. 2006 would boost the penalty for violating whistleblower protections from $500 to $5,000. The bill would also authorize state agencies to fire any employee who breaks the law, and provides a process for removing any elected officials or agency appointees who violate the law.
The bill passed the House of Delegates unanimously as one of the first new bills of the legislative session and will head to the Senate Judiciary Committee for discussion and vote.
The House of Delegates is also discussing H.B. 2319, introduced by several delegates to make fundraising activities more transparent. The bill would require state legislators to disclose fundraising activities within five days of hosting a fundraiser. The bill will also head to the Senate if it passes the House of Delegates.
According to West Virginia’s The News Center, “other ethics-related measures on the legislature’s agenda this session include bills that will prohibit nepotism, forbid city council members or mayors from also being city employees, strengthen the state’s pension forfeiture law and require businesses bidding on government contracts to disclose lists of interested parties in their companies.”
Source: The News Center