OKLAHOMA CITY (January 10, 2012) – State Rep. Randy McDaniel has filed legislation intended to reduce fraud and abuse regarding unemployment benefits.
“It is important to keep unemployment insurance taxes as low as possible. One way to accomplish this goal is to mitigate deceptive practices,” said McDaniel, R-Oklahoma City. “My legislation provides the necessary penalties to deter individuals from gaming the system.”
Under House Bill 2204, those who knowingly continue to receive unemployment benefits after securing a new job would be required to pay back all of the falsely obtained benefits plus a penalty equal to 25 percent of the overpayments.
The money raised by the penalties would go back into the unemployment trust fund which helps keep taxes low, while a portion will be used to pay for fraud investigations.
The bill also requires those who file for unemployment to provide documentation of job search efforts within one week of obtaining benefits.
“The new timeline will make it more difficult for individuals to receive unemployment checks without actively seeking other job opportunities,” McDaniel said. “Unemployment benefits are meant to be a safety net for those truly in need, not a hammock for those who do not want to work.”
The bill also includes a provision that will eliminate paperwork costs in the system. The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC) will afford employers and unemployed workers the option of receiving e-mail notifications instead of physical paper copies of all documents.
“The e-mail notification proposal continues the government modernization efforts that have saved millions of dollars in unnecessary expense over the past few years,” McDaniel said.
House Bill 2204 can be taken up by lawmakers after the start of this year’s legislative session in February. The measure is expected to be first heard in the Economic Development, Tourism & Financial Services Committee, chaired by McDaniel.
“At the end of the day, small businesses pay the price when we do not weed out double-dealing,” McDaniel said. “By providing for better enforcement, we can ensure helping the truly needy while keeping taxes low for job creators.”