Frosh returns to State House, albeit briefly

‘Just a spectator,’ new attorney general returns for session opener

Daily Record Legal Affairs Writer//January 14, 2015

Frosh returns to State House, albeit briefly

‘Just a spectator,’ new attorney general returns for session opener

By Steve Lash

//Daily Record Legal Affairs Writer

//January 14, 2015

ANNAPOLIS — He’s no longer a senator, but Attorney General Brian E. Frosh stopped by his old State House stomping grounds Wednesday on the first day of the 2015 General Assembly session.

“I’m just a spectator,” Frosh said after emerging from a morning meeting with Sen. Jamin B. “Jamie” Raskin, a former colleague on the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, which Frosh chaired.

But Raskin said Frosh was an interested spectator, as the attorney general offered his “passionate” support for the senator’s proposed Maryland False Claims Act.

The measure, which has failed in past years amid strong business-sector opposition, would permit employees of all state contractors to bring whistleblower actions if the contractor overcharges or otherwise defrauds the state, and allow the employee to collect up to 25 percent of the state’s recovery through that litigation. The bill would also permit the state to recover triple damages and the whistleblower to recover attorney’s fees.

Business groups have said the bill would spur frivolous whistleblower lawsuits, an argument Raskin rejected.

“We should be cracking down on people who defraud the taxpayer,” said Raskin, D-Montgomery.

Currently, whistleblower lawsuits are allowed only against health care institutions and providers under the 2010 False Health Claims Act.

Raskin said he will also be reintroducing the Second Chance Act, which would permit individuals to seek court orders shielding from public view certain minor crimes they had committed three years earlier, including disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace and trespassing. A shielded conviction would not be considered a conviction, thus enabling those individuals to tell prospective employers honestly that they have not been convicted of a crime.

The Maryland Chamber of Commerce has opposed the bill, saying it would “prevent businesses from obtaining criminal conviction information necessary to evaluate the suitability of applicants for employment, promotion or transfer.”

Raskin again disagreed with the business-side argument.

“We have more than 100,000 Marylanders with this scarlet letter on their resume,” he said. Removing these minor convictions and enabling these people to find work “will be an economic benefit to the state,” Raskin added.

Meanwhile, Frosh, whose main office is now in Baltimore, called his return bittersweet.

“I miss having a home in the Senate office building,” said Frosh, who was sworn in as attorney general on Jan. 6.

Raskin interjected that the attorney general could stop by his office any time.


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