The Edmond Sun

Local News

May 3, 2012

Unemployment benefits bill awaits governor’s signature

EDMOND — Pro-business legislation aimed at reducing unemployment benefits fraud has been sent to Gov. Mary Fallin for her approval.

House Bill 2204, by state Rep. Randy McDaniel, R-Edmond, was passed by the House Wednesday evening by a vote of 83-7 with bipartisan support, and across-the-board support by the Edmond delegation.

The measure cracks down on people taking advantage of the unemployment benefits system, McDaniel said. HB 2204 requires an unemployed individual to register for work within seven days of filing the initial claim for unemployment benefits.

Abuse occurs when people continue to receive unemployment benefits after they have taken a new job, McDaniel said. Another example is when individuals do not search for employment when receiving the benefits.

“One you’re caught, you have to pay back all the money that you’ve received and shouldn’t have, plus a 25 percent penalty of that amount,” McDaniel said.

Unemployment taxes for business would be lessened because less unemployment tax would not be drained from the trust fund by people who do not qualify for benefits, McDaniel said. A system of accountability is enhanced by the measure, McDaniel said.

State Sen. Dan Newberry, R-Tulsa, authored language excusing employers from having to get permission from a terminated employee to use a positive drug test as evidence during a dispute of unemployment benefits.

“This is great for every employer in the state. It’s great for safety of all the workers on any site,” McDaniel said. Most Oklahomans believe consequences are warranted when employees are taking illicit drugs on the job, he added.

The measure allows for electronic notification to the employer and claimant. It also allows the Office of Juvenile Affairs to use employment information for evaluating results and outcomes of clients and gauge the effectiveness of juvenile and justice programs.

McDaniel, who represents House District 83, is up for re-election this year. His Republican opponent Maurice Aldridge withdrew from the race, that leaves the incumbent representative facing Democrat Ed Holzberger in the November general election.

jcoburn@edmondsun.com | 341-2121, ext. 114

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