Assembly Insurance Committee Passes Package of Bills Reforming the Employment Development Department

For immediate release:

Sacramento – The Assembly Committee on Insurance, chaired by Assemblymember Tom Daly (D – Anaheim), has advanced legislation making serious reforms to the Employment Development Department (EDD).

“As the administrator of California’s unemployment insurance program, EDD plays a critical role in the state’s pandemic response,” said Assemblymember Daly. “Unfortunately, the department’s failures have hampered that response and created untold hardships for thousands of Californians. These bills are a first step towards increasing oversight, efficiency and accountability at EDD.”  

The 13-member Insurance Committee, led by Chair Daly, took aggressive action by approving the following measures unanimously.

  • AB 12 (Seyarto): Prohibits state agencies from sending outgoing mail that contains a full social security number.
     
  • AB 56 (Salas): Codifies various recommendations from two State Auditor reports related to EDD, which includes requiring an annual corrective action plan to contain specified information and requires EDD to report on its website the amount of benefit payments for which it must assess potential overpayments; the amount for which it has issued overpayment notices; the amount of overpayments waived; and the amount repaid related to those overpayment notices.
     
  • AB 74 (Gonzalez): Requires EDD, before commencing payment, to provide the option of direct deposit for unemployment benefits and disability benefits to claimants.
     
  • AB 110 (Petrie-Norris): Requires the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to provide the names and social security numbers of current inmates to EDD for the purpose of preventing payments on fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits; the bill also requires EDD to cross match that information before any payment of unemployment benefits is provided.
     
  • AB 397 (Mayes): Requires EDD to provide an individual additional notification prior to disqualifying them from receiving unemployment benefits.
     
  • AB 400 (Petrie-Norris): Establishes the Unemployment Insurance Oversight Advisory Board within the Labor and Workforce Development Agency to review the operations of EDD and make recommendations on how to enhance the efficiency of the operations and ensure equitable access to benefits. 
     
  • AB 401 (Chiu): Expands access to language translations at EDD.
     
  • AB 402 (Wicks): Establishes the Office of Claimant Advocate within EDD to provide assistance to claimants, coordinate with and collect data from the EDD consumer assistance or call centers, and improve claimant’s access to benefits.
     
  • AB 980 (Dahle): Requires EDD to make available to employers a list of claimants approved to receive unemployment benefits, via EDD’s online portals. 

“The pandemic overwhelmed an agency that was underprepared for any economic downturn, let alone the one we have seen over the past year,” said Assemblymember Chad Mayes (I – Rancho Mirage), vice chair of the Insurance Committee. “EDD has foundational issues that have forced millions of Californians to wait on benefits needed to stay afloat during COVID-19. That is why I have been proud to work with Chair Daly to pass a number of bills to reform EDD for the benefit of all Californians.”

The bills will help prevent a repeat of EDD’s historic failures over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, when unemployment claims rose steeply. They are now pending before the Assembly Appropriations Committee.