Delegate John Shott, R-Mercer, noted that the American Tort Reform Association, a group supported by industry and business groups, names West Virginia a "judicial hellhole" for having a legal climate year after year that's bad for business.
"This is a bill that can only reinforce that perception," Shott said Thursday.
Many states have used false claims acts to recover money from corporations after whistleblowers reported Medicaid fraud. The federal government would increase Medicaid supplemental payments to West Virginia, provided the state approves a false claims law as strong as the federal law.
House Democrats said West Virginia stands to gain tens of millions of dollars each year in lawsuit settlements and awards if the bill becomes law. The state attorney general's office would likely sign onto most of the cases.
Committee members rejected several amendments Thursday that would have capped attorney fees and whistleblower awards.
The legislation next moves to the House floor.
Reach Eric Eyre at erice...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.