Today, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ranking Member Bill Nelson’s (D-Fla.) bipartisan Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act by voice vote.
“While I believe most manufacturers are dedicated to putting vehicle safety first, there have been disappointing examples where that did not happen and Americans died and sustained serious injuries,” said Thune. “This legislation will be a powerful tool to help ensure that problems regarding known safety defects are promptly reported to safety regulators.”
“The auto industry needs to be held accountable if it makes decisions that result in serious injuries or deaths,” said Nelson. “And, one way to do that is to encourage insiders to come forward and tell the truth.”
The Thune-Nelson bill would allow employees or contractors of motor vehicle manufacturers, part suppliers, and dealerships to receive up to 30 percent of the monetary penalties resulting from a DOT or U.S. Department of Justice enforcement action that totals more than $1 million if they share original information not previously known to the DOT relating to any motor vehicle defect, noncompliance, or any violation of reporting requirements that is likely to cause risk of death or serious injury.
The bill takes into account whether or not the whistleblower had the opportunity to report the problems internally, as well as the significance of the information. It will also protect whistleblowers’ identities. The legislation, which was first introduced last November, is modeled after existing statutory whistleblower protections that encourage individuals to share information with the Internal Revenue Service and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Click here for the text of S. 304, as approved by the Commerce Committee.Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) also cosponsored the legislation.