Trenton – In response to the COVID-19 pandemic causing an increase in unemployment claims, the Senate today cleared legislation spearheaded by Senators Nicholas Scutari and Loretta Weinberg and sponsored by all members of the Senate which would assign handlers to legislative districts to take over managing these claims.
“Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, New Jersey has seen record levels of unemployment, with over 2 million initial claims processed,” said Senator Scutari (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). “While we are fortunate that there has been a decline of cases so far into 2021, there are still more claims being filed than normally, and the Department of Labor and Workforce has been overwhelmed with handling this excess of claims. The legislation will be key in alleviating the stress filing these claims have put on our government offices and will allow them to be filed at an increased rate.”
The bill, S-3505, would require the Department of Labor and Workforce to assign an unemployment claims handler to each legislative district and partisan offices during the COVID-19 public health crisis. In order to effectuate the bill’s purposes, $1.8 million will be appropriated from the General Fund.
“With many offices for the Department of Labor and Workforce Development being closed around the state, district offices over the last year have been inundated with dealing with these cases,” said Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen). “Although we spend lots of time trying to help constituents cut through the bureaucracy, even this has become more difficult to do because of the closure of Department of Labor offices. In these still hectic times with record numbers of unemployed in our state, we need to be able to adjust to meet the demand.”
The bill was released by the Senate by a vote of 37-0.