January 17, 2014
West Virginia is considering a legislative proposal to enact a false claim law that would protect and reward whistleblowers with information about fraud against the state.
The West Virginia House Judiciary Committee approved the “Fair Claims Act” last week in a 15-9 vote, despite opposition from Republican legislators and business interests.
Opponents claim the state would be flooded with frivolous lawsuits if the whistleblower law was adopted – a typical claim by opponents that has never been the case since the federal False Claims Act was amended in 1986.
Thirty-two states have False Claims Acts that are based on the federal government’s law and were enacted to recover taxpayer dollars. “We’ve already missed out on millions and millions and millions of dollars,” said Judiciary House Committee Chairman Tim Manchin (D-Marion).
House Speaker Tim Miley (D-Harrison) said he hopes that the Fair Claims Act will help deter fraudulent behavior and incentivize whistleblowers to report internally.
The bill now will be considered by the full House.