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Effort to put state worker whistleblower protection on 2022 ballot in Michigan fails

Posted at 7:16 PM, Oct 07, 2021

LANSING, Mich. — A resolution to place whistleblower protections for state workers into the Michigan constitution failed in the state House of Representatives on Wednesday. The vote was just short of the two-thirds majority needed to place in on the ballot.

The proposal was "a constitutional amendment to override the civil service code," said state Rep. Donna Lasinski, D - Scio Township.

The resolution would have solidified whistleblower protections for state workers who talk with state legislators. It would have prohibited a state department or agency from retaliating against the whistleblower with disciplinary action.

But Lasinski argued that the current system already works.

“We have seen that the whistleblower protections have worked in our state," she said. "We are proud when folks come forward with important information that needs to be told. What we know is that opening up and overriding the civil service code opens the doors to attacks on other worker protections that are inside of that code.”

All of the no votes were cast by Democrats.

“Democrats have a long history of worker protections and after direct conversations with employees regarding the processes that are meant to protect them in the civil service code," Lasinski said. "It became clear that opening up our constitution, creating an overriding clause would have just caused chaos.”

But state Rep. Julie Alexander, R - Hanover, said she sees the resolution differently.

“I don't have all the answers. I don't have all the information I need. I value hearing from those I serve so that they're allowed to share their insight with me to make me a better legislator," she said. "What I strongly feel is that who your employer is should not impact your ability to speak with your legislator.”

The resolution passed in the Michigan Senate back in May with an additional amendment: that the proposed protections would only apply if the information was true.

Despite the failed vote Republican leaders are calling for the proposal to be reconsidered.

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