Legislation, HB 1152, to penalize fraud in the unemployment insurance system passed through the General Assembly and is on its way to Gov. Eric Holcomb. The Department of Workforce Development asked for the changes to go after people gaming the system.
If signed into law, people who knowingly underreport wages or falsify facts on unemployment benefits applications will be required to repay it and could face civil penalties. Some advocates worry people who are confused when filing a claim could get caught in the crossfire.
DWD’s Tyler Ness testified in a Senate committee that isn’t the intention.
“It ensures that we can fight fraud even if the individual does not receive benefits,” he said. "We are not changing the definition of fraud in this bill."
Before the final vote, Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Ogden Dunes) opposed it saying it does nothing to make Indiana’s unemployment insurance system less prone to honest mistakes or address current identity theft issues.
“It’s like a mouse nipping around the edges,” she said in a final discussion before the Senate. “It’s like throwing a nickel in the ocean.”
Governor Holcomb’s office said he is reviewing the legislation.