Whistleblower Protection Legislation Moves Forward - Following Investigations Into Troubled COVID Testing Lab
SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The "Whistleblower Protection Act" unanimously passed out of the Senate Committee on Judiciary Tuesday, and now moves on to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
It is one of two pieces of legislation that were introduced by State Senator Scott Wilk in response to CBS13's year-long investigation into the state's troubled COVID-19 testing lab.
The investigation gave a voice to brave whistleblowers who risked their careers in the interest of public health and it shined a spotlight on shocking public health failures that it appeared the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) tried to hide.
In response, Wilk introduced two pieces of legislation that transcend COVID and are intended to ensure accountability and transparency long after the pandemic is over.
The first, Constitutional Amendment (SCA 7), would require approval from the legislature before a no-bid state contract of more than $25 million could be renewed.
The Newsom administration quietly renewed PerkinElmer's no-bid contract amid ongoing state and federal investigations of the lab, despite the fact that the lab consistently failed to meet contract requirements including 48-hour testing turnaround times.
The state recently terminated that contract.
Wilk also introduced the Whistleblower Protection Act. SB 947 would extend whistleblower protections for employees of government contractors like PerkinElmer, which was given a $1.7 billion-dollar no-bid lab contract and then sued one whistleblower who reported wrongdoing and threatened to sue others.
Senate Bill 947 (SB 947) has been endorsed by the National Whistleblower Center and was passed unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee. According to Wilk's office, the bill moves on to the Senate Governmental Organization Committee next week.
(SB947 was originally scheduled to be heard in Senate Appropriations next week. This story was updated to reflect the new committee assignment.)
WATCH THE CBS NEWS SACRAMENTO SPECIAL REPORT
THE COVID LAB: State Secrets Exposed
FOLLOW OUR CONTINUING COVERAGE:
STATE SECRETS: The Whistleblower Investigation
STATE SECRETS: The Troubled Test
STATE SECRETS: Continued Accountability
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