Government Fraud Prevention Act is rejected in the House - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Government Fraud Prevention Act rejected in the WV House of Delegates

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According to Delegate Paul Espinosa, R-Jefferson "you can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig."

During the Jan. 25 floor session of the House of Delegates, the topic of debate was House Bill 4001, formerly known as the False Claims Act but renamed Government Fraud Prevention Act.

Through the bill, whistle blowers, or individuals who bring forward fraud, would be given incentives to do so in the form of monetary compensation.

Earlier in the session, a public hearing was held and many in the business community spoke against the proposed bill, expressing concern that it would merely lead to a "sue or settle" mentality.

"We know the response of the business community to this bill," said Delegate John Shott, R-Mercer. "It's been open, hostile and well-organized."

On the floor, Espinosa also reiterated that fraud prevention already exists, and adding additional legislation would merely be duplicative. Shott said the passage of the proposed bill would merely add to the state's reputation as a "judicial hellhole."

With the focus on creating additional jobs, many on the floor who spoke against the proposed bill said the opposite effect would occur with the passage of the bill, making small business owners hesitant to come to the Mountain State.

Those who spoke to the proposed piece of legislation, said the monetary compensation would be funneled back into the economy and possibly help in balanced the Mountain State's budget.

While that might happen, Delegate John B. McCuskey, D-Kanawha, said it's not a guarantee.

McCuskey advocated economic growth and a balanced but urged his colleagues to "not start here."

By a slim margin, the Government Fraud Prevention Act was rejected.