Wisconsin Assembly passes unemployment bill, Evers to sign

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 9:37 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 23, 2021 at 3:22 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Assembly has overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan bill designed to jump-start updates to the state’s antiquated unemployment claims processing system.

Gov. Tony Evers has promised to sign the bill which the Senate passed last week on a 27-3 vote. The Assembly passed it Tuesday 89-0.

“The legislation provides a simple and easy roadmap for the governor to finally move forward at upgrading the unemployment insurance computer systems,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said.

Evers has taken intense criticism for months over a backlog of unemployment claims stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. He has largely blamed the state’s antiquated, 50-year-old computer processing system for handling the claims.

“Nonpartisan legislative audits showed that less than 1 percent of the calls were answered at the call center during the height of the pandemic and DWD was responsible for 85% of the delay in payments,” Vos added.

The bill as passed also waives the one-week waiting period for receiving unemployment benefits until March 14 and extends limited liability from COVID-related lawsuits to businesses, governments and schools.

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