In a victory for public employees who report waste or wrongdoing within their agencies, House Bill 2497 has cleared both houses. After passing the Senate with a committee amendment today (Monday), it returns to the House for concurrence.

The leadership of UE Local 170, the West Virginia Public Workers Union, supports the measure.

The bill passed the Senate on Third Reading by a vote of 32-0. Since the Senate amended the House’s bill, the House must vote whether to accept the Senate’s changes.

As it stands now, the state code prohibits discriminatory and retaliatory actions against whistleblowers. The bill would increase protections in the following ways:

  • Quoting the bill: “No employer may deny a whistleblower covered by the civil service system a promotion or other increase in compensation that the whistleblower otherwise would have received.
  • A worker alleging a violation of this particular law would have 2 years after the occurrence to bring a court action, instead of 180 days.
  • New: Any employee covered by the civil service system may pursue a grievance under the West Virginia Public Employees Grievance Procedure.
  • New: Employees covered by the civil service system may not be prohibited from engaging in political activity (except when on duty or acting in an official capacity), or the right to refrain from political activity.
  • New: Employees covered by the civil service system may not be denied the right to be a member of an organization of employees (such as UE Local 170), or the right to refrain from being a member of such an organization.

Another bill we are watching, Senate Bill 291, moved past First Reading today, and will be up for Second Reading tomorrow (Tuesday). That bill would require the PEIA and other health insurance providers to provide mental health parity between behavioral health, mental health, substance use disorders, and medical and surgical procedures.

Today (Monday) is the 41st day of the 60-day session, which ends on March 7. After today, no more bills can be introduced, except for committee originating bills and supplemental appropriations.

Sunday the 23rd is the last day for bills to pass the committees in their house of origin. For a list of bills the union is monitoring, click here.

Also today (Monday), the House passed HB 4581, which will include West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources employees in the West Virginia Clearance for Access: Registry and Employment Screening process. The bill goies to the Senate.

SB 339, a Legislative rule-making bill dealing with the DHHR, will be read on First Reading in Tuesday’s House session. It includes material from¬†SB 352, relating to qualifications for provisional license to practice as social worker within the DHHR. It passed the Senate on January 30.