A proposal to protect whistleblowers is likely dead for the year after the state House voted on Wednesday, by voice vote, to send it back to the House Judiciary Committee.
Each chamber must approve a bill by April 10 for it to be considered by the other chamber.
The bill is aimed at preventing agencies from retaliating against whistleblowers. It would include provisions for an employee to take civil action against an agency if blowing the whistle results in lost wages or benefits.
Also included is a provision to award whistleblowers 25 percent of any net cost savings to an agency during the first year, which resulted from a public employee’s report.
Sponsor, Rep. Laurie Funderburk cited in defense of the bill a 2016 voicemail left by a SCANA accountant with a Santee Cooper employee working on the V.C. Summer site of two since-abandoned nuclear reactors. The voicemail alluded to known mismanagement of the project by SCANA.
“The fact that nobody felt comfortable coming forward and reporting this to somebody,” said Funderburk, a Camden Democrat, “gives me great pause.”
Republicans fretted the proposal could encourage frivolous claims.
But the bill would allow agencies to fire employees who do not make claims in good faith.