Weekly Capitol Report – Representative Randy Railsback
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo – The House moved to forgive unemployment overpayments this week by passing HBs 1083, 1085, 1050, 1036, 873, and 1097. During the historic COVID-19 pandemic, tens of thousands of Missourians were forced to apply for unemployment benefits to cover their rent, mortgages, utilities, and other necessities. Unfortunately, the Department of Labor provided benefits to nearly 46,000 Missourians that they say did not qualify. While I understand that this has been common practice in the past, and the Department has recouped overpayments before, this particular situation is different.
A vast majority of these overpayments came from federal dollars provided to the State to assist specifically with COVID-19 related unemployment, and the federal government has explicitly stated that they will not attempt to collect the overpayments if they were received non-fraudulently. This financial assistance was given as a lifeline to citizens who faithfully worked pre-COVID and found themselves in a desperate situation nearly overnight. To be clear, should this legislation pass through the Senate and be signed by the Governor, only the federal overpayments will be waived. The repayment of state dollars will still be pursued, however those repayments will be made without interest and penalties, and the Department of Labor will work to create affordable payment plans with each recipient. This bill has passed through the House, but now goes to the Senate for consideration.
In other news, the Women Legislators of Missouri Caucus is hosting their annual scholarship contest. Young women set to graduate high school at the end of this school year can apply for a $500 college scholarship. This scholarship was created to provide financial assistance on the basis of leadership, academics, and community service. If you or someone you know is interested, simply fill out an application and submit a 500-word essay answering the question, “If you were a state legislator, what would you hope to accomplish and why?”
The submission deadline for this scholarship is Wednesday, March 31st, 2021. You can download the application at www.myscholarshipcentral.org. If you have questions about applying, please contact Representative Suzie Pollock’s office by calling 573-751-1119 for more information.
As always, it’s an honor and pleasure to serve you. Please feel free to contact my office if I can ever be of assistance by calling 573-751-0246.