(Lansing - December 21, 2017) - After nearly a year of effort from a
stakeholder workgroup and bipartisan collaboration on legislation, Gov. Rick
Snyder today signed into law six bills that will change the Unemployment
Insurance Agency’s (UIA) approach to flagging fraud in the system, as well
improve identify theft protections for Michiganders and expand the advocacy
program at the agency to allow for better representation.
Among the eight
bills included in the package is HB5169, sponsored by Rep. Beau LaFave. This
bill prevents the UIA from charging interest on benefit overpayments that were
the result of administrative or clerical error by the agency. It is now PA 229
“I appreciate all the work of the Legislature and the
Unemployment Insurance Agency, as well as the claimant and employer communities
in coming up with solutions to modernize the statewide unemployment system,”
Snyder said. “The new system will be fairer to those who apply for unemployment
benefits, and will protect the personal information of both claimants and
employees of the companies that pay into the system.
diligently together to solve these problems, rather than just criticize the
agency, and that’s the approach we will continue in 2018 as we further address
any problems created by the automated fraud system.”
Wanda M. Stokes,
Director of the Talent Investment Agency, said: "The changes involved in this
unemployment legislation have been a priority for us and I’m very excited to
start the implementation. Unemployment Insurance will be able to provide better
service to the public thanks to this legislation. I look forward to working with
the Legislature again in 2018 on fraud and other important unemployment
The other provisions of the package are:
Bill 5165, sponsored by Rep. Joe Graves, improves identity theft protections
within UIA, including allowing the agency to immediately cease paying benefits
when it receives an affidavit from a person with a stolen identity and a
corroborating report from his or her employer. It is now Public Act 225 of 2017.
HB 5166, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Hertel, reduces fraud
penalties, removing the $500 threshold in the structure, reducing the first
offense penalty from 200 percent of the claim to 100 percent, and changing the
400 percent penalty for a subsequent offense to 150 percent. It is now PA 226 of
HB 5167, sponsored by Rep. Wendell Byrd, expands
the UIA advocacy program to allow representation of claimants or employers
accused of fraud. If the agency or a court ultimately finds the claimant or
employer did commit fraud, it will attempt to recover the cost of that
representation. The bill is now PA 227 of 2017.
sponsored by Rep. Diana Farrington, requires that an individual applying for
unemployment benefits provide a driver’s license number, state identification
number or other copies of acceptable documents allowed by federal law as a means
of establishing their identity, in addition to their Social Security Number. The
bill is now PA 228 of 2017.
HB 5170, sponsored by Rep.
Joe Bellino, modifies the consequences of an employer’s failure to provide
timely or adequate information to the UIA. It is now PA 230 of 2017.
HB 5171, sponsored by Rep. Phil Phelps, allows a claimant to
quality for a waiver of repayment of benefits if their average net household
income and assets are at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.
It is now PA 231 of 2017.
HB 5172, sponsored by Rep.
Martin Howrylak, requires the UIA to reconsider a previous decision on benefits
if evidence shows the previous decision was sent to a bad address. It is now PA
232 of 2017.
In addition to the work group that developed the framework
for the legislation, the agency also consulted with the U.S. Department of Labor
during the drafting process to ensure compliance with federal law. Each of the
bills were approved unanimously in both chambers.