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House Labor Committee hears whistleblower bill

Rep. Ron Marshall, R-Hamilton, reads House Bill 64. If passed, whistleblowers could receive up to 30% of all fines and fees associated with a fraud case against their company. (James Bradley/ UM Legislative News Service)

HELENA – Members of the House Business and Labor Committee heard testimony Monday about a bill that would protect and reward whistleblowers who report  possible securities fraud.

The Whistleblower Award and Protection Act would help people bring information to the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance.

Lynne Egan is the Deputy Commissioner of Securities and Insurance at the Montana State Auditor’s office. She said the bill could help people report fraud to the state.

“It is often hard for individuals within the industry to come forward for fear of financial hardship or being blackballed,” Egan said. “The proposed Whistleblower Award and Protection Act would allow us to provide an incentive for those who help us take down bad actors.” 

The act would award up to 30 percent of fines and fees involved in the case to the whistleblower. Restitutions would not be affected. It also provides protection for the whistleblower by ensuring they cannot be fired or harassed as a result of their actions.

Chairman Mark Noland, R-Bigfork, said the committee will likely vote on the bill Friday. 

James Bradley is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association, the Montana Newspaper Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.