House Democrats have a plan to reform unemployment

Published: Sep. 3, 2019 at 12:54 PM EDT
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State Reps. Terry Sabo (D-Muskegon), Donna Lasinski (D-Scio Township) and Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown Township) held a press conference that revealed a package of Unemployment Insurance Agency reforms on Tuesday.

Part of that includes reimbursing those who were falsely accused of fraud because of an error in the computer system.

Lawmakers say they've heard stories from many of their constituents who have lost their home and seen a dramatic change in their credit score because of that mistake.

Darrin Camilleri said, "Rather than wait it through the court system, we should be acting as a legislature to ensure that things like their bankruptcy costs and their legal proceedings that they had to incur those costs for should be looked at and considered as part of their restitution."

Democrats also want to restore the maximum weekly benefit rate for those who have lost their job. They say that amount hasn't changed in nearly two decades. If passed, the rate would increase by 180 dollars in January of 2020. Another bill allows unemployed workers to receive benefits for 26 weeks instead of 20.

Donna Lasinski said, "Restoring these benefits allows workers to focus on finding a new job without worrying about how they’re going to pay bills and put food on the table. It keeps people actively looking for work. It keeps the talented labor we need in the state to fill critical shortages and ultimately it keeps our economy moving forward."

According to a release sent out after the announcement, provisions in the 10-bill package is legislation to restore the maximum weekly benefit rate indexing formula to 58 percent of the state average weekly wage, while also returning the eligibility period from 20 to the standard 26 weeks. The plan would also adjust the dependent amount to reflect the realities of modern-day families. More than half of the package’s legislation focuses on making whole the thousands impacted by the false fraud accusations leveled by the Unemployment Insurance Agency’s faulty MiDAS computer system.

“When Michiganders are laid off or lose their job through no fault of their own, UIA helps them face those challenges,” said state Rep. Terry Sabo (D-Muskegon). “Yet right now, compared to other Midwestern states we fall way behind. When you combine that with the number of economists who are warning of the potential for another national recession, it’s clear that we need to fix our outdated unemployment system immediately. Losing your job may be a temporary setback, but it shouldn’t derail your life.”

The money would come from the unemployment fund which has a balance of more than four billion dollars.

Honorable guests included state Reps. Bill Sowerby (D-Clinton Township), Cara Clemente (D-Lincoln Park), Leslie Love (D-Detroit), John Cherry (D-Flint), Tim Sneller (D-Burton), John Chirkun (D-Roseville) and Wendell Byrd (D-Detroit).

A flyer outlining the full package of bills is attached.
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