Charlie Crist

03/07/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 03/07/2021 10:20

Crist Supports Legislation to Modernize State Unemployment Systems

Washington, DC - U.S. Representative Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) has joined Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV) in introducing the Unemployment Insurance Modernization Act (H.R. 1458), legislation that that would invest federal dollars in technology for states with broken unemployment systems - like Florida.

The legislation comes as the U.S. reaches the one-year mark of the outbreak of COVID-19, which has left 10 million Americans unemployed, a number nearly 50% above pre-pandemic levels, and has forced thousands of businesses to close their doors. This week, the Florida Inspector General released a report detailing the failure behind the State's reemployment system, CONNECT, recommending the technology be wholly replaced with a more robust and modern system.

Congressman Crist has been a vocal critic of Florida's unemployment system, which failed hundreds of thousands of Floridians at the height of the pandemic as they desperately tried to access the aid they were entitled to. Many still never got their benefits.

'Floridians won't soon forget images of people crammed into long lines during a deadly pandemic, to receive a paper unemployment application after the massive failure of the State's unemployment system,' said Rep. Crist. 'Floridians out of work, through no fault of their own, had to battle a broken system in Tallahassee. The State's failed website has been kicking Floridians when they are down for too long. We should be lifting each other up, especially during a crisis.'

The Unemployment Insurance Technology Modernization Act (H.R. 1458) would make federal investments in state unemployment insurance systems to prevent fraud and address the widespread delays and technical difficulties that job seekers have encountered while filing for unemployment insurance. This approach would provide states with access to state-of-the-art unemployment insurance technologies and would be more cost-effective than building 50+ separate state systems. The legislation would better equip new systems to prevent identity theft and fraud. A companion bill to the legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR).