SACRAMENTO, CA –Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) commended the unanimous support for Assembly Bill (AB) 56, as it passed successfully out of the Assembly Insurance Committee. This landmark legislation will overhaul the Employment Development Department (EDD) to speed up unemployment insurance claims, protect Californians from identity theft, stop rampant fraud of the unemployment insurance system, and ensure that California is ready to meet the next crisis.
“This vote sends a strong message that we need to fix EDD now,” said Assemblymember Salas. “California families are suffering and need immediate relief from EDD. AB 56 will help protect taxpayers, create accountability, and move the state forward by reforming EDD. We must ensure that California families are put first and receive the assistance they need during these tough times.”
AB 56 seeks to address the many issues plaguing EDD. Among these problems, EDD answers only 10 percent of incoming calls while sitting on almost a million backlogged claims. For individuals who have received their benefits, tens-of-thousands have had their EDD debit cards mistakenly frozen by Bank of America and can no longer access their money. EDD still faces millions of work hours to get through its deferred workload, including authorizing retroactive benefits for those who have been stuck waiting.
According to reporting, of the $122 billion of unemployment benefits the state has paid out, $11.4 billion has been stolen. EDD paid $810 million worth of benefits to 45,000 prison inmates. A report by the State Auditor also found that EDD continues to put millions of Californians’ identities at risk, and has sent out more than 38 million pieces of mail with full Social Security Numbers.
AB 56 would address these issues by requiring EDD to create a new unit to coordinate all fraud prevention efforts, requiring EDD to obtain a list of all frozen Bank of America accounts immediately and evaluate them, creating working groups to improve EDD’s claims process, and will provide Californians with identity monitoring services if EDD continues to mail out full SSNs. Additionally, the bill would require EDD to assess the effectiveness of cross-checking the names of new claimants with the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to ensure that benefits are not sent to incarcerated individuals. Lastly, AB 56 would hold EDD accountable by requiring EDD to provide free identity theft monitoring services if it continues to put Californians at risk of identity theft.
AB 56 passed the Assembly Insurance Committee unanimously and now heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Assemblymember Salas represents part of the City of Bakersfield, the cities of Arvin, Hanford, Corcoran, Delano, Lemoore, McFarland, Shafter, Wasco, and the communities of Armona, Avenal, Buttonwillow, Home Garden, Kettleman City, Lamont, Lost Hills, Stratford and Weedpatch.