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California lawmakers introduce bill to hold EDD accountable for issues

The new bill requires the department to send a clear notice to claimants if EDD identified an issue with their application instead of automatically cutting benefits.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Laurel Carter from Berkeley has been unemployed since April 2020 and was receiving her benefits through December until when California's Employment Development Department (EDD) suspended her benefits citing "possible fraud."

“I’m now six weeks in without any payment [or] any response from ID.me. I’ve emailed them, I’ve tried to call, there’s no phone number,” Carter said.

On Thursday, a day after EDD gave hardly any answers on how they plan to rebuild the agency's ongoing problems, state lawmakers brought to the table legislation to fix the mess, including putting millions towards fighting fraud, increasing services for non-English speakers, and allowing people to correct errors on their claims without penalties

"AB 397 would require the department to send a clear notice to claimants if EDD has identified this issue with their application. Instead of automatically cutting benefits off, claimants would have the right to fix any unintentional miss statement,” Assemblymember Chad Mayes, I-Yucca Valley, said.

But for this new legislation to help people sooner rather than later, Assemblymember Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, said lawmakers need support from Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“Where we would appreciate the governor stepping in and being a true partner is not waiting a whole year to implement some of these reforms and some of these changes,” Salas said.

ABC10 asked how viewers like laurel can get their benefits right now, not in six months. Assemblymembers said their best option is to continue to contact their representative.

“We can help walk you through the process, we can help escalate your case, and we can help to speed a resolution. So in the short term, I think that’s the most productive thing for us to be telling folks ,” Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris, D-Huntington Beach, said.

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