The Most Intriguing Bill of the Day award goes to HB 822, a hand-crafted, bipartisan bill that would give informers a financial incentive to rat out government fraud, whether in the state Medicaid program or in your local city hall.
A quartet of names are on the bill: House Majority Whip Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta; state Reps. Roger Lane, R-Darien; Alex Atwood, R-Brunswick; and Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur. The Office of Legislative Counsel indicates that its lawyers only did light editing, which means the bill is the personal handiwork of the four lawmakers.
The “Georgia Taxpayer Protection False Claims Act” would apply to any public board, municipality, county, school board, hospital authority or other political subdivision – including MARTA. Falsifying records would be included – so test-score cheating would apply.
Penalties would be “a civil penalty of not less than $5,500 and not more than $11,000 for each false statement or fraudulent claim, plus three times the amount of damages which the state or local government sustains.” Plus attorney fees.
A private citizen – presumably not part of the fraud — can file an action, and if successful would “receive at least 15 percent but not more than 25 percent of the proceeds of the civil action or settlement of the claim.”
Here’s hope: In cases of fraud uncovered by the news media, awards of 10 percent could be considered. Even those who are part of a conspiracy might be rewarded with a little something, according to the bill – as long as the informing miscreant can escape indictment and conviction.
It appears that the cash would come from those successfully accused — so deep-pocketed wrongdoers should be considered a primary target.
“The concept has been around since the Civil War,” said Lindsey. The federal government revived the practice in 1988, and several states have followed. Three years ago, Lindsey carried similar legislation — but it only applied to the state Medicaid program.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider