March 15, 2022 Labor and Public Employees Committee, RB 417
Public Hearing Testimony of
Heidi Lane, Legal Director
Department of Labor
Labor and Public Employees Committee
March 15, 2022
Good Morning, Senator Kushner, Representative Porter, Senator Sampson, Representative Arora and members of the Labor and Public Employees Committee. Thank you for the opportunity to provide you with testimony regarding Raised Bill No. 417 - AN ACT CONCERNING AMNESTY FOR NONFRAUDULENT UNEMPLOYMENT OVERPAYMENTS. My name is Heidi Lane and I am the Legal Director of the Connecticut Department of Labor.
This bill seeks to create a “pandemic unemployment nonfraudulent overpayment account” within the General Fund to pay established nonfraud overpayments on behalf of a claimant/applicant. The notice of the overpayment must have been provided to the claimant between March 10, 2020, and May 1, 2022. Claimants denied a waiver of the recovery of the overpayment by the Connecticut Department of Labor (CTDOL) may apply to the fund for reimbursement to repay the overpayment to the Department, except those individuals who received a paycheck protection program loan are ineligible for reimbursement from the account. The account and application process would be administered by CTDOL. Funds from the account may be used for reimbursement purposes to assist the individual in repaying the nonfraudulent overpayment and for spreading awareness of such account.
To begin, it is noted that the Governor’s budget does not include $50M in funding required by this bill. With that said, if this bill were to proceed, we find that there are issues for which we seek clarification. Our issues include, but are not limited to, the following concerns. What are the parameters for determining eligibility for reimbursement upon denial of the waiver? Are there criteria, or is it simply first come first serve? What is the relevance of the May 1, 2022 date and why is the application period not later than the six months after the effective date of the proposed bill? As you know, overpayments are still being established for benefits paid throughout the pandemic.
If an individual is determined eligible for reimbursement but has partially repaid the overpayment, will amnesty program pay the outstanding balance and refund the individual for payments made toward the overpayment?
Additionally, CTDOL notes that lines 27-28 of the bill states that individuals who received a paycheck protection program loan (PPP) are ineligible to apply for reimbursement from the fund. However, I believe those lines are meant to refer to an individual who received payment from an employer who received a paycheck protection program loan.
Connecticut Department of Labor • www.ct.gov/dol
An Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer