California legislators on Thursday pushed ahead with reforms targeting the state’s troubled unemployment agency as lawmakers condemned it for yet another significant error that has interrupted benefit payments to thousands of jobless residents.
Agency officials apologized for a new computer glitch that has prevented many people from filing new claims online, but lawmakers note it is just the latest in a string of technological problems that have plagued the state Employment Development Department since the pandemic began more than a year ago.
A package of bills to help overhaul EDD’s operations approved Thursday by a key legislative committee would allow direct deposit of unemployment benefits, provide written instructions in more languages on how to get benefits, and require the agency to better explain to claimants why they have been disqualified from receiving financial assistance
Meanwhile, federal regulators have begun looking at how Bank of America, which contracts with the EDD to issue debit cards to deliver benefits, has handled a flood of fraudulent unemployment claims with actions that included freezing accounts, affecting some people who are legitimately in need of financial aid.
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