HELENA, Mont. – Speaker of the House Austin Knudsen today received a letter stating that Governor Steve Bullock vetoed a whistleblower protection bill while the House of Representatives was out of town on a mid-session break.
House Bill 202, sponsored by Representative Kirk Wagoner (HD 75), received bipartisan support in the House and Senate and would add protections for public workers who report ‘matters of public concern’ to the legislature.
“This bill is one of two whistleblower protection bills that I introduced this session after seeing a serious need to strengthen and protect the First Amendment rights of public employees against retaliation in the form of demotion, harassment or termination after shining light on agency wrongdoing or matters of public concern,” Wagoner stated.
“We’ve heard accounts of public employees being retaliated against because they chose to speak out about waste or abuse within agencies and It’s incredibly disappointing that Governor Bullock turned his back on workers while allowing protections for retaliation to continue. It’s telling that this veto came while the Legislature was out of town, but the Governor has another chance to protect the rights of workers and that’s HB 208 which I hope he will swiftly sign into law,” Knudsen stated.
HB 208, also introduced by Wagoner, was heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is expected to take executive action on the bill this week. It provides protections against retaliation of state employees who, in good faith, allege waste, fraud or abuse within an agency.