Bills on Bonuses, VA Smoking Areas Introduced

A new bipartisan Senate bill (S-696) would bar employees who commit misconduct that could lead to a suspension or stronger disciplinary action from eligibility for various types of monetary awards for five years, and similarly would require repayment of awards already paid if a violation in the pertinent year is found later. Also, legislation (HR-1662) offered in the House would immediately bar smoking inside VA health care facilities and would bar outdoor smoking near those buildings within five years. The facilities currently provide outdoor designated smoking areas and some designated indoor areas. However, sponsors argue that even with such restrictions, patients and employees of the facilities are at a health risk due to exposure to secondhand smoke, and note that smoking is prohibited in non-VA federal facilities, indoor military facilities and in most private-sector national healthcare systems.