The state’s Whistleblower Protection Act went into effect in 2010 and since then the state has had to spend a lot more money dealing with lawsuits. A bill in the state legislature would address that by making it harder to make a whistleblower claim.
Under current law, public employees who face retaliation for exposing corruption can sue the state for double back pay. State Senator Joseph Cervantes sponsored the original measure.
“We’re trying to make sure that we don’t have corruption in state government,” Cervantes explained. “And the way that we learn about corruption is from the people coming forward and feeling comfortable and safe that in doing so they won’t be retaliated against.”
Supporters of the new changes say they would keep people from making frivolous claims just for the money. But a representative of a public employees union says the changes would also make it harder to expose corruption.
The bill is scheduled to be heard in the House Judiciary Committee this week.
This story is part of a reporting partnership between New Mexico In Depth, KUNM and NMPBS, People, Power and Democracy, that attempts to pull back the curtain on how the New Mexico Legislature works and, in some cases, doesn’t. It's funded by the Thornburg Foundation and the Loeks Family Fund.
Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect that the bill was not scheduled to be heard Friday but rather on Thursday. We regret the error.