Hurdles to jobless aid get final OK

Gov. gets bill mandating proof to draw benefits
2013-03-27T00:00:00Z Hurdles to jobless aid get final OKHoward Fischer Capitol Media Services Arizona Daily Star
March 27, 2013 12:00 am  • 

PHOENIX - Lawmakers gave final approval Tuesday to putting new hurdles in the path of Arizonans seeking jobless benefits, sending the measure to Gov. Jan Brewer.

The 34-24 party-line House vote for HB 2147 came over objections of Democrats who said there is no evidence of any fraud allowing ineligible people to get weekly checks.

But Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, said the evidence provided to lawmakers by businesses shows there is a problem.

He said some types of companies, including call centers, have people who show up for work for one or two days, then quit - and file a request for unemployment benefits.

Under the current system, Farnsworth said, hearing officers at the state Department of Economic Security tend to take the side of the workers, forcing the employer to prove that the person abandoned the job and is ineligible. And if the business cannot provide that proof, that employee's claim becomes part of their record and the companies are "dinged" with higher unemployment insurance premiums.

"I say that is baloney," he said.

But House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix, said his Republican colleagues were attacking those who just lost their jobs and were least able to fight.

"We're punishing those people with this bill," he said. "Those are the people we should be helping."

The bill calls on DES to require someone who seeks benefit "to provide documentation or information sufficient for the department to determine the individual's eligibility for benefits."

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