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Horn legislation initiates meaningful UIA reforms

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Ken Horn on Thursday joined several of his Senate colleagues in introducing legislation aimed at reforming the state’s Unemployment Insurance Agency.

“This is just the first step in what will be an ongoing process,” said Horn, R-Frankenmuth. “The legislation outlines our priorities and what reforms are still necessary. There are states that are doing a really good job managing their unemployment claims and we need to study the best practices that are out there. I will be having discussions with the department, UIA leadership and stakeholders over the summer. We’ll continue to dive deeper on what improvements need to be made so that the agency can better serve Michiganders.”

Horn, who chairs the Senate Economic and Small Business Development Committee, was tasked with reviewing the Deloitte audit of the UIA as well as holding hearings to address issues with fraud and poor customer service. As the hearings concluded, Horn announced a list of recommendations that would help improve the agency’s overall efficiency and effectiveness.

Senate Bills 531-536 include many of these recommendations and will serve as a starting point for making substantial reforms at the agency.

The bills would, among other things, require local branches to open and begin serving residents; limit the length of emergency rules and require legislative approval for emergency rule extensions beyond six months; prohibit the agency from removing work search requirements; require background checks for third-party contractors; and establish a unit of employees dedicated exclusively to monitoring and investigating fraudulent activity.

Horn says while lawmakers and the department work toward solutions to help improve the agency, the most helpful thing the agency can do in the meantime is open their doors and start helping customers.

“My office is still getting calls from people who have waited weeks, if not months for benefits that are owed to them — which serves as an example of why these reforms are needed,” Horn said. “We also need to make sure we never again face a situation where our state loses hundreds of millions of dollars to fraud and legitimate claimants are shut off when they need help the most.”

Senate Bills 531–536 were referred to the Senate Committee on Economic and Small Business Development for further consideration.