Kansas governor signs bill to modernize unemployment system

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TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has signed a bipartisan bill to give the GOP-controlled Kansas Legislature more oversight of the modernization of the state’s troubled unemployment system.

The bill Kelly signed on Monday will require the Kansas Department of Labor to complete computer upgrades by the end of 2022. The new law calls for a 13-member council which will hire an independent firm to audit the impacts of fraudulent claims and improper payments beginning last year. The audit will also look into the department’s response to those issues.

The bill, drafted by Republican lawmakers, passed unanimously in the Kansas House and Senate earlier this month. Legislators in both parties say they have been flooded with calls and emails from unemployed people who are struggling to get benefits and can’t get through to the department. The state has acknowledged a flood of fraudulent claims and attempts by scammers and internet bots to access the unemployment system.

In a statement, Kelly said the bill will ensure that the state department of labor will “truly be prepared the next time our state faces an unprecedented economic crisis.”

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