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The General Assembly gave final approval Wednesday to legislation that would reward whistle-blowers who help the state recover money from those who have cheated it -- Attorney General Brian E. Frosh's top priority of the legislative session.

The bill now goes to Gov. Larry Hogan for his signature or veto.

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The legislation would allow whistle-blowers who report someone who has defrauded state or local governments to receive a reward if their coming forward results allows authorities to recoup the money. It also provides whistle-blowers with protections against retaliation.

"The False Claims Act is a proven tool and I am confident it will recoup millions for the state, while creating a level playing field allowing honest businesses to thrive," Frosh said. He noted that Maryland already has such a law applying to health-care fraud only.

That law has allowed the state to recover $62 million over the past four years, according to the Attorney General's Office. The federal government also has a version of the measure.

The House passed its version of the bill 89-51 after a debate in which Republican delegates warned that it could be used to crack down on businesses that made inadvertent errors. The bill earlier passed the Senate 46-1.

Hogan could come under pressure from Republican delegates to veto the bill, but it received four more votes in the House than are needed to override a veto.

David Nitkin, a spokesman for Frosh, said the attorney general does not see the legislation as a partisan issue.

"He hopes it would not be seen through a partisan lens," Nitkin said.

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