Cottie Petrie-Norris

Bill to address rampant unemployment insurance fraud passes first committee

With broad support from law enforcement and prosecutors, legislation preventing fraudulent unemployment claims has passed out of the Assembly’s Consumer Privacy and Protection Committee. AB 110, authored by Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, will require the Employment Development Department (EDD) to cross-check incarceration records in order to prevent paying fraudulent benefits.

“In the midst of this terrible crisis, fraudsters and criminals spotted an opportunity to bilk California taxpayers for billions of dollars,” said Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach). “AB110 is a simple, common sense step to stop unemployment insurance fraud involving California inmates.”

Over the past year, district attorneys across California have uncovered multiple fraud rings involving state prisoners who coordinated with non-incarcerated accomplices to file unemployment benefits under the federally funded Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program. The California State Auditor discovered that between January 2020 and November 2020, EDD paid $810 million in benefits associated with incarcerated individuals. Nearly one billion taxpayer dollars were lost because EDD does not have a system to regularly crossmatch unemployment claims with information from correctional facilities.

Cross-checking lists of unemployment benefit claimants against incarceration data is a common fraud prevention process practiced in other states and was encouraged by the Federal government. However, current California law restricts the inmate information that can be shared with other state agencies. AB 110 will enable EDD to easily cross-check claimants’ information against inmate records maintained by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

AB 110 is supported by CalChamber, California State Sheriffs’ Association, Orange County Business Council, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

This bill is jointly authored by Assemblymembers Phillip Chen (R-Yorba Linda), David Chiu (D-San Francisco), Chad Mayes (I- Rancho Mirage), Adrin Nazarian (D-Van Nuys), Rudy Salas Jr. (D-Bakersfield) and Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles); and co-authored by Assemblymembers Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda), Tasha Boerner Horvath (D-Encinitas), Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles), Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), Jesse Gabriel (D-Woodland Hills), Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson), Adam C. Gray (D-Merced), Brian Maienschein (D-San Diego), Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), Jim Patterson (R-Fresno), Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), Carlos Villapudua (D-Stockton) and Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica).

AB 110 will next be heard in the Assembly Insurance Committee later this month.

This article was released by the Office of Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris.