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Kentucky lawmakers advance bill to help unemployment

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 3:31 PM EST|Updated: 21 hours ago
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WYMT) - State lawmakers have advanced a bill they say will address at least some of the unemployment problems people have had over the past year.

One issue WYMT has heard of is people being told to pay back the money they tried so hard to earn even after they lost their jobs during the pandemic.

Kentucky’s auditor Mike Harmon also told lawmakers that the state system that processes claims is a failure.

People who say they’re still waiting on help have gathered in Frankfort for a 24-hour protest.

Harmon told lawmakers they looked at a backlog of claims and discovered high-risk decisions were made. “In an attempt to pay benefits more quickly, many claims were still not timely processed.”

The auditor highlighted 400,000 unread emails and problems with trying to too quickly pay benefits, which he says broke federal law through autopay.

The same panel also advanced a bill that addressed issues of those who received money, only to be told to pay it back.

Senator David Givens says the problem is that the Labor Cabinet tried and failed to get a federal waiver to fix it.

“A portion of what you see in this legislation is us permitting a one-time window for forgiveness of overpayments where claimants did not have a claim on the UI system,” said Senator Givens.

As that committee meeting was ending, a protest was beginning made up of people who say despite repeated attends and cries for help, their claims remain unresolved and some people haven’t worked since last spring.

Many say they are tired of excuses given by the Governor of outdated systems or fraud.

“At this point we think something should have been done, to fix the system get us some help. Open some offices, more appointments for us, something, because we can’t get through to the phone system,” said Misty Gaipan, one of the people seeking unemployment.

She and others say they’re planning to protest all day, through the night, and end tomorrow.

Phillip Kirby, another unemployment seeker said, “As you see I have 8 to 9 months, and I haven’t received a dime yet. Nothing yet. I have called these people, they won’t answer us.”

The senate bill dealing with the federal waivers for overpayments passed the panel 10 to nothing and now goes to the full senate floor.

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