Unemployment Insurance Reform Task Force Recommends Changes

The Kentucky Unemployment Insurance Reform Task Force adjourned its final meeting Tuesday after voting to send a list of recommendations to Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester), Speaker of the House David Osborne (R-Prospect), and members of the Legislative Research Commission (LRC).

Recommendations include:

  • Indexing the number of weeks benefits are payable to the state unemployment insurance rate;
  • Increasing the number of job contacts a claimant must make in a week;
  • Capping the amount of benefits paid to a worker if his or her regular weekly benefit rate is temporarily increased or supplemented by federal, state, or local funds during a state of emergency;
  • Changing the charging method for employers to a “proportion to base-period wages” method;
  • Reforming the unemployment insurance (UI) tax system;
  • Implementing a comprehensive job referral program into the unemployment insurance system;
  • Decreasing from three years to one year the period of time for an employer to qualify for an experience rating;
  • Developing ways to improve workforce participation;
  • Switching the emphasis of the system from unemployment to reemployment;
  • Strengthening internal policies of the Labor Cabinet to ensure that Cabinet employees cannot access their own UI claim information;
  • Improving transparency and access to information at the Labor Cabinet;
  • Combating UI fraud by locking known fraudsters out of the system;
  • Implementing the recommendations made by the Auditor in his report;
  • Increasing funding of the UI system to implement reforms;
  • Continued monitoring of the production of a new UI system technology upgrade; and
  • Considering the reforms recommended in House Bill 317 from the 2019 Regular Session.

Senator Ralph Alvarado (R-Winchester) requested an additional recommendation to the letter task force members had prepared before the meeting. Alvarado suggested that legislators permit, within federal statute, some LRC staff to assist current or future UI casework. The task force agreed to add Alvarado’s recommendation.

The task force began meeting in June following a crisis that struck the UI system during the COVID-19 pandemic. Testimony through the summer and fall included workers, business owners, Labor Cabinet officials, and the state auditor.

Task Force Co-Chairs Representative Russell Webber (R-Shepherdsville) and Senator Mike Nemes (R-Shepherdsville) asked anyone with addendums to the recommendation letter to contact their staff as they prepare to submit their suggestions officially.