ATLANTA – State Representatives Sandra Scott (D-Rex) and Kim Schofield (D-
Atlanta), along with House Minority Caucus Chairman James Beverly (D-Macon), State
Representatives Viola Davis (D-Stone Mountain), Donna McLeod (D-Lawrenceville),
Rhonda Burnough (D-Riverdale) and Valencia Stovall (D-Forest Park), recently have
worked to eliminate the backlog of Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits requests in
Georgia. This week, Reps. Scott and Schofield coordinated a series of press
conferences held across the state to address this issue.
“Many Georgians have failed to receive their Unemployment Insurance benefits and
have begged for help from their congressional and state leaders,” said Rep. Scott. “We
have answered the cries of our constituents by holding several press conferences to
address these problems, but my colleagues and I are disheartened by the lack of
response from the Department of Labor. We will stand in solidarity until all COVID-19
related unemployment claims are resolved.”
These legislators seek to resolve the increased number of complaints that their State
Capitol offices have received regarding issues with the Georgia Department of Labor
(GDOL) processing COVID-19 unemployment claims. As a result, the legislators have
met several times with GDOL Commissioner Mark Butler, offered suggestions and
submitted an Open Records Request. The legislators are also concerned with the
increased amount of time that their administrative assistants have spent coordinating
such complaints from constituents.
“Our administrative assistants were thrust into handling requests concerning
unanswered GDOL calls,” said Rep. Schofield. “They have also been updating sensitive
data and forwarding spreadsheets to GDOL daily. This level of assistance has
subsidized the GDOL’s administrative responsibilities and interrupted our constituent
services at the Capitol. As an attempt to resolve these issues, many legislators stepped
up to help.”
Furthermore, Chairman James Beverly found a recent statement from Commissioner
Butler to be problematic.
“It is deeply disturbing that Commissioner Butler, a statewide elected commissioner,
would single individual legislators by name in an attempt to malign their character,” said Chairman Beverly. “These courageous legislators are doing the jobs they were elected to do. He owes them a public apology.”
The purpose of the recent press conferences is to address the backlog in a timely
manner, as well as prioritize the backlog of unemployment claims and payment
distributions. The legislators have also utilized the press conferences to urge the GDOL to hire and train additional staff to investigate and resolve claims that have been pending for more than 30 days. At the press conferences, the legislators will continue to request that Governor Brian Kemp intervene to establish a moratorium on evictions and utility (water, gas and light) cut-offs across the state until the GDOL eliminates the backlog and dispatches the National Guard to assist the GDOL.
For more information about the week long series of press conferences held across
Georgia, please click here.