Sex crimes are taking center stage in Sacramento.
The Los Angeles Times reports that a long-stalled effort to extend whistleblower protections to employees of the state Capitol has taken on new life in the early days of the legislative session.
It’s about time.
Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), the author of the newer legislation, said credit for the revived push for whistleblower safeguards should to go to the women who spoke out last fall in an open letter about the “pervasive” sexual harassment and misconduct in California politics.
Every year since 2014, Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) has introduced a measure to enshrine protections into law for legislative staff. The legislation was proposed after a string of ethical scandals embarrassed the state Senate. Melendez argued that closing a loophole that exempts Capitol workers from state government whistleblower laws would enable staff to speak out about misconduct.
Although Melendez’s bill easily passed the state Assembly each year, it routinely was shelved in the Senate Appropriations committee.
The sexual harassment controversies have brought a surge of new interest in the bill, which now has more than 50 legislators signed on as co-authors.