SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A flurry of EDD reform bills have been submitted to the California legislature to fix, once and for all, EDD's inability to get out of the morass of delays and denials facing millions of unemployed Californians.
After a year of relentless EDD complaints to legislators offices, many are acting in unison. "Every day my colleagues and I hear from thousands of desperate Californians who are in dire straits," said Assemblyperson Cottie Petrie-Norris, (D) Laguna Beach.
One example is the story of Laurel Carter's struggle with the EDD. Carter was cut off until she could, once again, prove she was who she said she was. "I uploaded all my information and it said there was a five plus hour wait. Now, if it was just five hours, that was fine. I slept with my computer on for eight days," she said.
She's had no response at all for six weeks now.
The raft of EDD reforms range over nine areas. One bill would establish an Oversight Board to continuously assess EDD's performance. "Auditor's report finding that that only 16% of calls to EDD are actually answered," said Assemblyperson Wendy Carrillo, (D) Los Angeles.
Another would establish an Office of Claimant Advocate to enforce a Claimants Bill of Rights. "To seek benefits in a variety of departments whether they be unemployment insurance, disability insurance or paid leave," said Assemblyperson Buffy Wicks, (D) Oakland.
The third would allow claimants to avoid Bank of America's problem ridden debit card system in favor of a direct deposit or a check. "If you're not a customer of Bank of America, they have no responsibility to be very accommodating to your concerns," said Assemblyperson Lorena Gonzalez, (D) San Diego.
The fourth would force EDD to directly notify claimants of problems before cutting them off without notice; sometimes for up to half a year. "By providing a clear right to fix unintentional mistakes, Californians will not be unnecessarily denied to have help when they need it the most," said Assemblyperson Chad Mayes, (I) Yucca Valley.
The fifth bill continues payments to claimants even if the Federal Government acts too slowly.
Sixth, greatly enhancing foreign language assistance with California's 7 million non-English speaking residents. "EDD isn't working for English speaking clients and it's impossible for those not proficient in English," said Assemblyperson David Chiu, (D) San Francisco.
Seventh requiring EDD to have a comprehensive plan to deal with major recessions and economic upsets.
The eighth would require EDD to crosscheck claims against inmate records.
The ninth would beef up fraud prosecutions through a well-funded fraud task force. "You know, these are common sense measures, we're asking for these reforms and we're pushing legislation to do that," said Assemblyperson Rudy Salas, (D) Bakersfield.