TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly signed into law Monday legislation affirming a commitment to modernize the Kansas Department of Labor’s computer network relied upon to handle jobless claims and to guarantee employers weren’t liable for fraudulent unemployment filings during the pandemic.
The Kelly administrated had started working on options of upgrading the department’s computers when the COVID-19 pandemic struck a year ago. The influx of unemployment claims, lack of agency personnel to handle calls and the 40-year-old IT system led to consumer rage and political backlash that landed at the governor’s feet.
A bipartisan coalition of House and Senate members produced House Bill 2196 that retained the 26-week unemployment benefit period through Sept. 5, expanded opportunity for the jobless to access commerce department employment services, held harmless businesses victimized by fraudulent claims and implemented a process designed to make certain computer technology at the labor department move into the modern era.