SB 491 - This act provides that where the state, any of its agencies, or any of its political subdivisions is a party to a legal action in which there are allegations that a person’s civil or constitutional rights have been violated, such entities are prohibited from entering into a settlement agreement, consent agreement, or consent order unless the attorney for the entity provides a written opinion stating that there is no foreseeable way in which the agreement or order could infringe on employees’ civil or constitutional rights. If the attorney declines to provide such an opinion, the state or entity may only enter into such an agreement or order if the employees are sent notice of the terms of any proposed agreement or order and of their right to object, which allows them specific time in which to respond, and which notifies them that an attorney will be provided by the state or entity to represent the interests of all objecting employees. The provisions of this act are also applicable to students at an educational institution.
The act also provides that upon receipt of objections from one or more employees or students, the state, agency, or political subdivision shall permit the attorney or representative to participate in negotiation of the terms of any settlement agreement, consent order, or consent decree. If the state, agency, or subdivision come to an agreement on a proposed settlement agreement, consent order, or consent decree, then it may enter into such agreement or order as modified to protect the rights of the students or employees. Also, if the objecting employees or students are unable to reach an agreement with the state, agency, or subdivision, and other parties to the proceeding, then these entities shall not enter into such an agreement, order or decree. In such a case, the objecting students or employees may file a motion to intervene in the proceeding, and the court shall allow such intervention.
The act also provides that if the state or entity is being provided defense by an insurance company, such company shall pay the costs and fees for the employees’ attorney, and all policies issued after the act's effective date shall provide coverage for such attorneys.