Assembly Republicans Introduce Common Sense Solutions to Help Unemployed Californians

SACRAMENTO California Assembly Republicans will introduce today common sense fixes to help unemployed Californians receive unemployment benefits.

The Employment Development Department has suffered from massive dysfunction during the COVID months, leading to a backlog of 1.6 million claims, widespread fraud and poor customer service that has left too many unemployed Californians frustrated and without benefits. 

Assembly Republican Leader Marie Waldron will be introducing legislation imposing deadlines on EDD claims to ensure claimants are given decisions on the outcome of their claims in a timely manner. 

"Too many people are left without any information or decision about their claims and have waited months in vain," Waldron said. "People need help when they lose their jobs and the government needs to be more responsive. A backlog of this size is unacceptable."

Assemblyman Tom Lackey will be introducing a bill to establish an advisory committee to provide oversight and accountability at EDD. 

“As a member of the budget subcommittee responsible for reviewing EDD’s response to the pandemic, EDD has continued to demonstrate its inability to provide critical relief to Californians during this difficult time,” Lackey said. “This is the result of zero oversight and accountability that has persisted for decades.” 

Assemblyman Phillip Chen will introduce an anti-fraud measure that will require EDD to begin cross-checking claim information with state and county correctional inmate data. Local district attorneys recently uncovered widespread fraud where California prisoners collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent claims. 

“While felons, murders, and rapists received hundreds of millions in fraudulent unemployment checks, countless legitimate claims by struggling Californian families were rejected or delayed by the EDD," Chen said. "This is unacceptable and we need to hold the system accountable.”
 
Assemblyman Kelly Seyarto will introduce an anti-fraud measure as well, requiring  EDD to cease including full social security numbers in mailings to UI claimants -- a practice that has also led to widespread fraud.

“This bill is a common sense fix to EDD procedure that protects Californians from identity theft and will help reduce the backlog of millions of claims held up by fraudulent filings," Seyarto said. "Full social security numbers are being incorrectly delivered to strangers while others wait for months for benefits. Californians deserve better service from their government.”

Assemblyman Thurston "Smitty" Smith will be introducing legislation offering claimants the right to choose direct deposit instead of relying on a debit card to receive benefits. Recently, many debit cards were frozen in a bank glitch meant to fight fraud. 

"With the 33rd Assembly District’s unemployment rate at 13.3 percent, we need common sense solutions at the EDD," Smith said. "I'm proud to be unified with California Assembly Republicans to contribute meaningful change and allow Californians to choose direct deposit instead of debit cards. California is one of the three states in the U.S. that does not offer this option."

Bill numbers to follow.