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Sat Feb 11, 2017, 09:14 PM

Lawmakers aim to expand whistleblower protections for public employees

PIERRE - Public employees at all levels should have whistleblower protections and the unrestricted ability to speak with their legislator or constitutional officer, the South Dakota House of Representatives voted Wednesday.

Lawmakers on a 62-5 vote approved House Bill 1052 with an amendment that would provide protections to state employees at all levels of government if they come forward to report any violation of law, abuse of funds or authority or criminal wrongdoing, or potential safety concerns in their workplace. The bill would protect them from dismissal, suspension, demotion, a pay cut or any other retaliatory measures for reporting perceived wrongdoing.

Rep. Don Haggar, R-Sioux Falls, said he brought the bill in an effort to better ensure that whistleblower protections apply to public employees in areas that might not have a formal process for reporting concerns. He said the bill was brought on after a campaign for Initiated Measure 22 highlighted the EB-5 and Gear Up scandals.

"This is an effort to protect employees who see that sort of thing and want to report it," Haggar said of the instances of alleged misuse of state and federal funds that led to fatal results.

Read more: http://www.argusleader.com/story/news/politics/2017/02/08/lawmakers-aim-expand-whistleblower-protections-public-employees/97656564/

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