Kansas Department of Labor fraud
Wednesday morning, the House Appropriations Committee held a briefing from the Department of Labor regarding current unemployment and fraud issues. After this committee meeting and the discussion, Governor Kelly admitted that the umemployment program has been overrun by fraud and that is currently distracting the department to process legitimate unemployment claims. Currently, Kansas is experiencing the second most fraudulent unemployment claims in the nation, only behind the state of Illinois.
When the COVID-19 pandemic started last year, the unemployment trust fund for the state of Kansas had a balance in excess of $1 billion. Now that same trust fund has an approximate balance between $300 million, with some stating that anywhere from $300 to $400 million may have been paid out in fraudulent claims.
There are two types of employers in Kansas; reimbursement employers and trust fund employers. Schools, public universities and not for profits are reimbursement employers. The state pays their claims and then sends them a statement to get paid back.
The first quarterly statements have begun going out and in one Topeka school district there were $775,000 in fraudulent claims that the state had paid out. With federal reimbursement applied, that school district will still owe the state nearly $400,000 for claims that never should have been paid and that the school district never authorized to be paid.
A bill was introduced on Wednesday to further investigate the fraud within the Department of Labor. The Appropriations Committee will have a hearing next week.
Kansas Lottery and Gaming
This week we had an informational update in the Appropriations Committee by the Kansas Lottery and the Kansas Gaming and Racing Commission. They had indicated to the committee that revenues for both the lottery and the state-owned casinos were lower in 2020 from the revenues received in 2019.
The difference for the lottery was almost $21 million and for the casinos, they experienced a difference of nearly $77 million, or an 18.7% difference. Both had stated that the COVID-19 pandemic was a root cause for the reduced revenues.
The Kansas Lottery did mention that in 2021, they will be placing more vending lottery machines in businesses to generate more revenue. The lottery currently has 200 vending machines in businesses across the state and is anticipating placing 70 more.
Bills Passed the House; Kansas Day
On Thursday, January 28, the Kansas House of Representatives debated and voted on three bills, all of which were issues that were addressed last session, however, were never debated due to COVID-19.
The first bill was House Bill 2022, which I introduced in the Appropriations Committee. This bill combines the two funds regarding oil and gas well plugging into only one fund. It also clarifies for the Kansas Corporation Commission on who is a responsible party if an oil or gas well needs to be plugged.
The second bill was House Bill 2026 and this bill creates a drug abuse treatment program for people on diversion and allows county attorneys to enter into agreements with court services and community corrections for supervision.
The final bill was House Bill 2008 which, when implemented by the Kansas Attorney General, would coordinate training for law enforcement agencies regarding missing and murdered indigenous people. Those in favor of the bill are hoping that this will address the high rates of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls across America. All of these bills passed out of the House, 123-0.
On this day in 1861, the state of Kansas became the 34th state in the union. Although this year is different, we all need to celebrate the birthhood of our great state.
Anytime that one would like to participate and listen to the developments of committee hearings or discussion on the House floor, one can tune in by listening to the audio footage at www.kslegislature.org. As always, if you have any concerns, feel free to contact me (785) 296-7672, follow on twitter at @waymaster4house, or email me at email@example.com.
Please contact me regarding any issues and legislation that we are discussing during session. It is a distinct honor to serve as your representative for the 109th Kansas House District and the state of Kansas.