Senate Majority Caucus announces legislative plans to address ‘mistakes’ in handling of unemployment insurance

In response to recent findings from the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting (KyCIR), Kentucky Senate Republicans announced Wednesday plans to file a bill they claim will address a mistake made by the administration of Gov. Andy Beshear related to unemployment insurance.

“When I see a headline that reads ‘Governor Beshear tells the public to save unemployment money in case you owe overpayment debt,’ When the Governor steps to the microphone at one of his daily briefings and acknowledges that we mistakenly have paid out too much…He got out over his skis, and this has an impact on everybody, including the business community that is going to be called on to pay these funds back,” said Senate President Pro Tempore David Givens at a press conference on Wednesday.

The findings from KyCIR brought attention to the fact that many Kentuckians who received unemployment benefits during the early stages of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic are now learning that the government has deemed them retroactively ineligible.

“Not only does this cut people off from unemployment for crucial months during the pandemic, many of those found ineligible now owe a debt to the state or federal government that could mean their tax refunds or other money get garnished,” wrote reporter Jared Bennett in his story for KyCIR.

Givens went on to announce that he is working with staff to file a bill to address the issue and prevent the government from “clawing this money back” from individuals.

“We’ll pass the legislation to cover your mistake,” Givens continued. “But Governor, we need you to step up with CARES Act funds dollar-for-dollar for the mistakes your administration has made to help the business community pay back this loan. The bill draft is in process now and we’ll continue to have conversations about it.”

Concerns with unemployment insurance assessments and added fees have been at the forefront for Kentucky employers, many of whom were forced to temporarily halt operations and/or incur added costs to implement new guidelines to keep employees and patrons safe in the face of the pandemic.

“We appreciate the continued call to address rising unemployment costs on Kentucky businesses,” said Kate Shanks, Vice President of Public Affairs at the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. “This is a major concern for not just our Kentucky Chamber business members but for Kentucky’s economic recovery as a whole.”

Senate President Robert Stivers also emphasized the potential impact of the unemployment costs on businesses at Wednesday’s press conference.

“This truly is critical – when you think about on Main Street that is shut down that could be assessed or is teetering on 25 percent capacity, a movie theater in your hometown, your hardware store, your dry cleaner – these are the businesses that are going to have to pay this (unemployment insurance) money back,” Stivers said.

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Jacqueline Pitts
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