JEFFERSON CITY - In a news conference Tuesday morning State Auditor Nicole Galloway promoted the use of the existing Whistleblower Hotline and proposed a solution to Senate Bill 43 that went into effect Monday.
The Whistleblower Hotline allows state employees to share information on waste, fraud, and mismanagement of taxpayer dollars while remaining anonymous and protected by the law.
“Whistleblowers must be able to raise concerns about government mismanagement without fear of losing their jobs,” Galloway said. “As the state’s only independent watchdog, I want to make sure we are able to shine a light on misuse of taxpayer dollars. Missourians deserve better.”
Galloway said the law will no longer protect public employees from being fired for identifying wrongdoing in the work place. Galloway said eliminating whistleblowers' protections does a disservice to public employees and taxpayers across the state.
Galloway proposed a legislative fix for lawmakers to consider in the upcoming legislative session.
“My Employee Whistleblower Act positions Missouri as a leader for those who would speak out against government wrongdoing,” Galloway said. “This legislation reverses state government’s trend toward secrecy and fights against a chilling effect that could undermine the state’s ability to uncover wasteful, improper or illegal uses of taxpayer dollars.”
Sen. Gary Romine, R-Farmington proposed Senate Bill 43 to modify laws relating to unlawful discrimination in the workplace, which became the most publicly-debated aspect of the bill.
After Gov. Eric Greitens signed the bill, the NAACP issued a “travel advisory" in June — its first ever in the nation — warning people of "looming danger" in Missouri. The concern was the new law makes it so someone must prove discrimination of a protected class, like race or gender, was a motivating factor for an employer's punishment, rather than a contributing factor.
In a previous KOMU 8 News interview, Romine said cases of discrimination in Missouri need to be handled federally rather than through the state, and the bill is more about making Missouri a more business-friendly state.
“This bill was to create a better environment for businesses to operate in,” Romine said in February. “There is a tremendous imbalance because right now we have a lower standard known as contributing factor when these cases are decided. . .this bill will bring us back to federal standards and the standards of the states around us.”
Senator Jill Schupp and House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty are planning to file the whistleblower bill for the upcoming legislative session.
KOMU 8 News contacted Senator Romine’s office, the Missourian Republican Party’s Office, and Boone County Republican’s office and has not received any responses.
Individuals may contact the State Auditor’s Whistleblower Hotline by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 800-347-8597. Concerns may also be submitted anonymously online at auditor.mo.gov/hotline