Whitmer vetoes bill to protect whistleblowers who expose state government mismanagement

Whitmer vetoes bill to protect whistleblowers who expose state government mismanagement

The bill, which passed without opposition, would protect state employees who expose misconduct in government.

A bill that would protect state employees blowing the whistle on issues such as waste and mismanagement was vetoed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on July 8.

Senate Bill 686 looked to protect employees from punishment “for communicating with certain individuals in the legislative branch.”

The bill was sponsored by state Sen. Tom Barrett, R-Charlotte, and enjoyed unanimous support from state lawmakers. The Michigan House of Representatives passed the bill by a 108-0 vote on June 24 after the Senate passed it 37-0 on Feb. 26.

Whitmer said the bill was an attempt to “score political points” and was a violation of separation of powers.

“Whether and how to discipline employees is a core executive power entrusted in part to the Governor and in part to the Michigan Civil Service Commission,” she said. “Because this legislation violates the constitutional separation of powers… I am vetoing it.”

Existing state rules protect state employees who come forward regarding violations of laws, rules and regulations – but Barrett’s bill would protect those who come forward with other violations that are not necessarily criminal in nature, or to participate in investigations.

Barrett questioned why Whitmer would not want whistleblowers protected.

He said she is “either retaliating against the legislature, retaliating against me personally or is afraid of something state employees will bring forward that she doesn’t want to come to light.”

Michigan’s state budget documents used to include whistleblower protections, but these were removed in fiscal year 2020, the Whitmer administration’s first budget.

Barrett has called for the legislature to override Whitmer’s veto, which would require a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate.

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