For Immediate Release: April 25, 2012
Sen. Dan Newberry
Senate advances measure to curb unemployment benefit fraud
The Senate today approved legislation intended to
reduce unemployment benefit fraud.
Newberry, Senate author of House Bill 2204, said the bill
provides reforms to deter fraud and encourage unemployed workers
to actively seek job opportunities.
“Unemployment benefits are intended to provide assistance
to those who lose a job, as they transition to new opportunities,”
said Newberry, R-Tulsa. “But we must be careful that these
benefits do not provide a disincentive to work. This measure helps
us strike a better balance between these two concerns.”
Authored by Rep. Randy McDaniel, HB 2204 would require those who
knowingly continue to receive unemployment benefits after securing
a new job to pay restitution on all falsely paid benefits, in
addition to a penalty of 25 percent of the amount of the original
overpayment. Money collected through the penalties would then
be dedicated to the unemployment trust fund and fraud investigations.
The measure also requires those who file for unemployment benefits
to provide documentation within seven days showing they are actively
seeking a job. The floor substitute includes provisions stating
those who are fired for failing a drug test will be ineligible
to receive unemployment benefits.
“Curbing unemployment benefit fraud doesn’t just save
the state money, it ultimately lowers operating costs for small
businesses in Oklahoma,” Newberry said. “Reducing
incidents of fraud and abuse in the system allows us to keep unemployment
insurance taxes low. This bill provides penalties to deter fraud
and incentives for unemployed workers to actively seek employment
The measure will now return to the House for further consideration.