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By Zach Thomas
Arizona Daily Wildcat
March 26, 1998

House passes whistleblower bill

PHOENIX - The Arizona House of Representatives yesterday overwhelmingly passed a measure that would further protect state university employees from reprisals if they report illegal activities or wasteful spending.

The proposal would allow the employees to petition the state personnel board for grievances - an option currently not allowed under state law.

"We need to protect individuals that bring to light mismanagement and gross waste of money," said Rep. Christine Weason, D-Phoenix. "I have received many letters, e-mails and phone calls on this."

The House voted 47-10 in favor of House Bill 2182, with three abstentions. Rep. Marion Pickens, D-Tucson, spoke against the proposal, which she said is unconstitutional.

"I would hope that we would vote this down," Pickens said. "It is solvable, but it has to be done within the university system."

At issue is the concept of shared governance, which gives the Arizona Board of Regents constitutional authority over the university system. The state personnel board is not under the Board of Regent's jurisdiction, thus bringing up the question of constitutionality.

The whistleblower question drew the attention of state lawmakers in 1997 after some university employees complained that the existing grievance system is inadequate.

The measure now moves to the Senate.

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