chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.
April 29, 2024 Feature

Amendments to State False Claims Act Statutes May Signal Increased Enforcement

Julia A. Clayton

More than thirty-five states have False Claims Act (“FCA”) statutes. Like their federal counterpart —31 U.S.C. § 3729 et seq. — these statutes target false or fraudulent claims submitted by contractors, grant recipients, vendors, as well as financial institutions handling government funds, for payment of public dollars. State Attorneys General have used FCA investigations to return millions of dollars falsely claimed from state-funded programs.

Connecticut and Oregon significantly revised their respective FCA statutes in 2023. These legislative developments may suggest a growing interest in state-centered FCA enforcement. This article examines the amendments to Connecticut and Oregon’s statutes, how they enhance the tools currently available to State AGs to combat fraud on the public fisc, and when we might expect to see evidence of increased state enforcement efforts.


Prior to the 2023 amendments, Connecticut’s FCA statute (Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 4-274 and 4-275) was limited to matters involving healthcare fraud and abuse. The statute defined actionable false claims as those submitted to “state-administered health or human services program[s].” Consequently, the Connecticut Attorney General lacked authority to pursue potential false claims outside the healthcare context.

In 2023, the Connecticut legislature took up H.B. 6826, which proposed expanding the statute beyond healthcare programs. See H.B. 6826, Reg. Sess. (Conn. 2023); see also 2023 Conn. Pub. Act 23-129. The amendments immediately went into effect upon the bill’s enactment in June 2023. Going forward, the Connecticut Attorney General can pursue fraudulent claims presented to any state agency for payment or approval. See Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 4-274 and 4-275. And because the Connecticut FCA allows private whistleblowers (also known as “qui tams” or “relators”) to initiate cases on the State’s behalf, more types of cases and fraud schemes may be brought to the Attorney General for consideration. See id. at § 4-277 (provisions for individuals to initiate FCA actions).


The Oregon FCA does not have a private whistleblower right of action; instead, the Oregon Attorney General has exclusive enforcement power. See Or. Rev. Stat. § 180.760(1). The 2023 amendments proposed in Senate Bill 311 expanded the Oregon Attorney General’s statutory authority in three ways. First, as of January 1, 2024, the statute of limitations period will be five, rather than three, years. Or. Rev. Stat. § 180.765 (2023); see also S.B. 311, Reg. Sess. (Or. 2023).

Second, the legislation revised the triggering event for the statute of limitations. Previously, the statute of limitations could be triggered by the knowledge of “an officer or employee of the public agency charged with responsibility for the claim.” As explained by the Oregon Attorney General’s statement in support of S.B. 311, this provision limited the State’s ability to enforce the FCA because the Attorney General was sometimes unaware of the fraud until many years after it occurred. S.B. 311 deleted that language regarding a state agency’s discovery of a violation and amended Section 180.765 to provide that the statute of limitations runs only from the date when the Attorney General discovers a potential false claim. Or. Rev. Stat. § 180.765.

Lastly, S.B. 311 replaced a $10,000 statutory cap on monetary penalties with amounts ranging from not less than $10,000 to not greater than $50,000 per violation. Or. Rev. Stat. § 180.760(4)(b)(A). In its support for S.B. 311, the Oregon Attorney General asserted that increasing the potential penalty amount to as much $50,000 would “serve as a more substantial deterrent” to fraud against the government.


With the amendments discussed above, Connecticut and Oregon substantially expanded the scope of their respective FCA statutes. It also appears that the AG offices in both states are preparing to put the revised statutes to use — for example, the Connecticut Office of Fiscal Analysis reported that the Attorney General anticipated needing to hire five attorneys and two forensic fraud examiners to support expanded enforcement activity.

The impact of Connecticut and Oregon’s amendments may not be immediately apparent, however. FCA investigations are complex and often require extensive evidence gathering and analysis. It is not unusual for a case to take several years before a state AG takes formal action. And, by statute, pending FCA cases are kept under seal while the government conducts its investigation. See Conn. Gen. Stat. § 4-277(b) (qui tam complaint must be filed in camera and the matter is held under seal for at least sixty days); see also 31 U.S.C. § 3730(b)(2). Consequently, information about increased enforcement activity may only come to light years later.

Although details regarding how Connecticut and Oregon are implementing their amended statutes may not be immediately known, this recent legislative activity suggests states’ growing interest in utilizing their FCA statutes. Connecticut’s amendments could prod other states to consider expanding the scope of their FCA statutes beyond healthcare fraud. States may also follow Oregon’s trail with longer statute of limitations periods running from state Attorney General’s knowledge of potential false claims, thereby eliminating arguments that the victim agency knew about, and possibly acquiesced to, fraudulent submissions to government programs. FCA practitioners should frequently monitor legislative proposals for signs of interest in state FCA enforcement.

    The material in all ABA publications is copyrighted and may be reprinted by permission only. Request reprint permission here.

    Julia A. Clayton

    Law Office of Julia A. Clayton

    Following a nearly two-decade career with the California Attorney General’s Office, Julia A. Clayton represents clients facing civil law enforcement investigations, including state and federal False Claims Act matters. She is admitted to practice in California, the Northern District of California, the Central District of California, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.