Assembly Bill 56 passes with bipartisan support
SACRAMENTO, CA – Yesterday, Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) successfully passed Assembly Bill (AB) 56 with overwhelming bipartisan support, out of the Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee. AB 56 will implement vital reforms to the Employment Development Department (EDD) by speeding up eligible unemployment insurance claims, protecting Californians from identity theft, preventing rampant fraud of the unemployment insurance system, and ensuring that California is ready to meet the next economic crisis.
“It has been more than a year since problems first began at EDD, and California families are still suffering from the department’s failures,” said Assemblymember Salas. “Common sense reforms are needed now to fix these longstanding issues. AB 56 protects taxpayers, stops fraud, improves the claims process, and brings accountability to EDD. We must ensure that Californians receive the assistance they need to put food on the table and support their families.”
AB 56 seeks to address the many issues plaguing EDD that have negatively impacted working families throughout California. Among these issues, EDD answers only 6 percent of the 4.8 million phone calls they receive. For those 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. The state also faces an uphill battle to curb fraudulent activities, which is estimated to be over $11.4 billion. Law enforcement agencies across the state are routinely breaking up EDD fraud schemes that criminals are using to buy weapons and drugs.
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. 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 will now head to the Senate Judiciary Committee.