Legislation aiming to crack down on fraud in Indiana’s unemployment system passed a Senate committee vote on Wednesday, but it's unpopular with those who worry applicants making simple mistakes could get caught in the crossfire.
House Bill 1152 would add penalties for people who don’t disclose income or falsify facts when seeking unemployment benefits. Business groups including the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and Indiana Manufacturers Association support the bill as they say fraud negatively affects employment.
Join the conversation and sign up for the Indiana Two-Way. Text "Indiana" to 73224. Your comments and questions in response to our weekly text help us find the answers you need on COVID-19 and other statewide issues.
Jenny Terry from Indiana Legal Services, was one of several who opposed the bill. She said one of their clients is currently being investigated for fraud after making an error filing for unemployment benefits on her phone.
“We are concerned that this bill, in its original form or current form, expanding fraud penalties, will disproportionately hurt low wage workers,” she says.
She and others suggested the legislature spend more time, instead, focusing on making unemployment insurance easier to access and understand.
After a 7-3 vote along party lines, the bill goes to the Senate floor.