HB 2014--
By Legislative Post Audit Committee

AN ACT relating to certain communications by employees of state agen- cies, local governments and certain public contractors; prohibiting cer- tain acts by supervisors and appointing authorities; providing remedies for violations; amending K.S.A. 1996 Supp. 75-2973 and repealing the existing section. Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Kansas: Section 1. K.S.A. 1996 Supp. 75-2973 is hereby amended to read as follows: 75-2973. (a) No supervisor or appointing authority of any state public agency or public contractor shall prohibit any employee of the public agency or public contractor from discussing the operations of the public agency or public contractor, as the case may be, or other matters of public concern, either specifically or generally, with any member of the legislature or any auditing agency. (b) No supervisor or appointing authority of any state public agency or public contractor shall: (1) Prohibit any employee of the public agency or public contractor from reporting any violation of state or federal law or rules and regulations to any person, agency or organization; or (2) require any such employee to give notice to the supervisor or appointing authority prior to making any such report. (c) This section shall not be construed as: (1) Prohibiting a supervisor or appointing authority from requiring that an employee inform the supervisor or appointing authority as to leg- islative or auditing agency requests for information to the public agency or public contractor or the substance of testimony made, or to be made, by the employee to legislators or the auditing agency, as the case may be, on behalf of the public agency or public contractor; (2) permitting an employee to leave the employee's assigned work areas during normal work hours without following applicable rules and regulations and policies pertaining to leaves, unless the employee is re- quested by a legislator or legislative committee to appear before a legis- lative committee or by an auditing agency to appear at a meeting with officials of the auditing agency; (3) authorizing an employee to represent the employee's personal opinions as the opinions of a state public agency or public contractor; or (4) prohibiting disciplinary action of an employee who discloses in- formation which: (A) The employee knows to be false or which the em- ployee discloses with reckless disregard for its truth or falsity, (B) the employee knows to be exempt from required disclosure under the open records act or (C) is confidential under any other provision of law. (d) Any officer or employee of a state agency, who is either in the classified service and has permanent status under the Kansas civil service act or in the unclassified service under the Kansas civil service act, may appeal to the state civil service board whenever the officer or employee alleges that disciplinary action was taken against the officer or employee in violation of this act or in any court of law or administrative hearing. The appeal shall be filed within 30 days of the alleged disciplinary action. Procedures governing the appeal shall be in accordance with subsections (f) and (g) of K.S.A. 75-2949 and amendments thereto and K.S.A. 75- 2929d through 75-2929g and amendments thereto. If the board finds that disciplinary action taken was unreasonable, the board shall modify or re- verse the agency's action and order such relief for the employee as the board considers appropriate. If the board finds a violation of this act, it may require as a penalty that the violator be suspended on leave without pay for not more than 30 days or, in cases of willful or repeated violations, may require that the violator forfeit the violator's position as a state officer or employee and disqualify the violator for appointment to or employ- ment as a state officer or employee for a period of not more than two years. The decision of the board in such cases may be appealed by any party pursuant to law. (e) Each state public agency and public contractor shall prominently post a copy of this act in locations where it can reasonably be expected to come to the attention of all employees of the public agency or public contractor, as the case may be. (f) As used in this section: (1) ``Auditing agency'' means the legislative post auditor, any employee of the division of post audit, any firm per- forming audit services pursuant to a contract with the post auditor, or any state agency, agency of a local government or federal agency or au- thority performing auditing or other oversight activities under authority of any provision of law authorizing such activities; (2) ``disciplinary action'' means any dismissal, demotion, transfer, reassignment, suspension, reprimand, warning of possible dismissal or withholding of work; (3) ``local government'' means any county, township, city, municipal university, school district, community college, drainage district and any other special district, taxing district or political subdivision of Kansas that is supported by tax funds and includes any board, commission, committee, bureau, department, division of agency thereof; (4) ``public agency'' means any state agency or local government; (5) ``public contractor'' means any person, partnership, association, corporation or other private business entity that has entered into a con- tract with a state agency for any supplies, materials, equipment or other goods or for performance of any services; public contractor does not in- clude any public agency; and (6) ``state agency'' and ``firm'' have the meanings respectively ascribed thereto by K.S.A. 46-1112 and amendments thereto. (g) Any officer or employee who is in the unclassified service of a local government or public contractor who alleges that disciplinary action has been taken against such officer or employee in violation of this section may bring a civil action for appropriate injunctive relief, or actual dam- ages, or both within 90 days after the occurrence of the alleged violation. A court, in rendering a judgment in an action brought pursuant to this act, shall order, as the court considers appropriate, reinstatement of the officer or employee, the payment of back wages, full reinstatement of fringe benefits and seniority rights, actual damages, or any combination of these remedies. A court may also award such officer or employee the prevailing party in any such civil action all or a portion of the costs of litigation, including reasonable attorney fees and witness fees. (h) This statute shall be known and may be cited as the Kansas whis- tleblower act. Sec. 2. K.S.A. 1996 Supp. 75-2973 is hereby repealed. Sec. 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its publication in the Kansas register.