Bill Seeks To Fine State Workers For Viewing Porn

Kat Khan
SACRAMENTO — California employees caught viewing porn on state-owned computers could end up paying a fine of $1,000 a day under the terms of a new bill that cleared its first legislative hurdle Jan. 10.

Assembly Bill 546 by Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia, R-Cathedral City, would set a state government-wide penalty of civil fines and make it illegal for all state employees who engage in this activity.

Currently, state workers who spend time cruising adult websites and chat rooms are subject only to mild disciplinary action, which varies among agencies.

"The current formula of each agency setting its own policies really is not fair to the employee because the discipline is uneven," Garcia said. "We want a set policy that is statewide."

Under terms of the bill, state managers who suspect a worker of viewing adult material would first investigate the case and then turn evidence of likely offenses over to the attorney general or district attorneys for prosecution.

The bill, which includes elected officials, makes exceptions for scientific, medical, academic and legislative research as well as investigations by law enforcement agencies.

The penalty for the offense would include a fine of up to $1,000 a day plus three times the value of illegal use of the computers. The offending employee also still could face. AB 546 now goes to the full Assembly.