COLUMBUS – State Representatives Mark Fraizer (R-Newark) and Tracy Richardson (R-Marysville) today joined their House colleagues in passing House Bill 614, legislation that improves Ohio’s unemployment compensation system. Fraizer and Richardson joint-sponsored the legislation and spoke in favor of the bill on the House floor.
According to the most recent data from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), 1.3 million Ohioans have filed for unemployment since March.
“This staggering number has led to countless calls and emails from our constituents expressing difficulties in applying for and receiving unemployment compensation,” said Richardson. “I want Ohioans to know I heard them and we are doing something about it.”
The initial goal of H.B. 614 was to study and reform the application, processing and administration of Ohio’s unemployment compensation system. The House Ways and Means Committee heard from ODJFS Director Kimberly Hall, who testified for six hours before the committee and discussed the challenges the current system faces. The Committee also heard from countless constituents through correspondence and through testimony before the Committee, as well as technology experts.
The bill was amended in committee to include four main provisions:
1. The Modernization and Improvement Council will be created to meet bimonthly and evaluate the claim filing process and technological infrastructure. The bipartisan council will also examine ways to maximize the responsiveness for individual applicants and employers. An initial report will be created within the first six months of meeting and the council will review the report every six months for potential updates.
2. The ODJFS Director is required to create a written strategic staffing plan for employees who handle inquiries and a referral system for members of the General Assembly to report issues directly to ODJFS representatives in order to compile all information in one place.
3. ODJFS is required to have a complaint form in order to streamline the complaint process for constituents.
4. The Auditor of State is required to make recommendations on the efficiency of the claims process by examining specific metrics and reporting to the Modernization and Improvement Council.
“House Bill 614 goes above and beyond in addressing constituents’ concerns heard by all State Representatives, regardless of party,” said Fraizer. “I look forward to working with interested parties to make sure the system never fails our constituents ever again.”
H.B. 614 now heads to the Senate for consideration.