SENATE BILL 893
K2 EMERGENCY BILL 1lr2467
By: Senator Rosapepe
Introduced and read first time: February 9, 2021
Assigned to: Finance
A BILL ENTITLED
1 AN ACT concerning
2 Unemployment Insurance – Revisions and Required Study
3 FOR the purpose of requiring the Maryland Department of Labor to take certain actions to
4 carry out the State’s unemployment insurance law; requiring the Maryland
5 Department of Labor to begin implementing a system through which certain
6 individuals may consent to the sharing of certain information with the Maryland
7 Health Benefit Exchange and the Maryland Department of Health for the purpose
8 of determining eligibility for certain health insurance; requiring the Maryland
9 Department of Labor to enter into a certain memorandum of understanding with the
10 Maryland Health Benefit Exchange and the Maryland Department of Health;
11 requiring that a certain consent request be placed on the weekly claim certification
12 form in a certain manner and using certain language; requiring the Maryland
13 Department of Labor to cooperate with the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange and
14 the Maryland Department of Health for a certain purpose; requiring the Maryland
15 Department of Labor to report to a certain committee of the General Assembly on or
16 before a certain date each year; requiring the Secretary of Labor to waive the charge
17 of benefits against the earned rating record of an employing unit if the benefits are
18 paid to a claimant during a period when the Governor has declared a state of
19 emergency due to COVID–19; providing that the Maryland Department of Labor is
20 not required to confirm the reason an employee leaves employment for purposes of
21 waiving certain benefits charges; authorizing the Secretary to investigate
22 accusations of fraud under certain circumstances; authorizing a certain employing
23 unit to elect to delay submitting a certain contribution and employment report for
24 certain calendar quarters; requiring employing units that elect to defer the
25 submission of a contribution and employment report to submit the report on or before
26 a certain date; prohibiting an employing unit that elects to delay the submission of
27 a contribution and employment report from being required by the Secretary to file
28 for an extension or be assessed certain interest for a certain period; altering the
29 maximum amount of wages disregarded when computing the weekly benefit amount
30 to be paid to a claimant; requiring the Maryland Department of Labor to submit to
31 the General Assembly a certain report on or before a certain date; requiring the
EXPLANATION: CAPITALS INDICATE MATTER ADDED TO EXISTING LAW.
[Brackets] indicate matter deleted from existing law.
*sb0893*
2 SENATE BILL 893
1 Maryland Department of Labor to conduct a certain study; requiring the Maryland
2 Department of Labor to report its findings and recommendations to the Governor
3 and the General Assembly on or before a certain date; requiring the Maryland
4 Department of Labor, on or before a certain date, to identify all changes in federal
5 regulations and guidance that would expand access to unemployment benefits or
6 reduce bureaucratic hurdles to prompt approval of unemployment benefits; requiring
7 the Maryland Department of Labor, on or before a certain date, to revise State
8 unemployment insurance rules and practices for a certain purpose; making a
9 conforming change; making this Act an emergency measure; and generally relating
10 to unemployment insurance.
11 BY adding to
12 Article – Labor and Employment
13 Section 8–109
14 Annotated Code of Maryland
15 (2016 Replacement Volume and 2020 Supplement)
16 BY repealing and reenacting, with amendments,
17 Article – Labor and Employment
18 Section 8–611(k), 8–626, 8–628, and 8–803(d)
19 Annotated Code of Maryland
20 (2016 Replacement Volume and 2020 Supplement)
21 SECTION 1. BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF MARYLAND,
22 That the Laws of Maryland read as follows:
23 Article – Labor and Employment
24 8–109.
25 (A)IN CARRYING OUT THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS TITLE, THE
26 DEPARTMENT SHALL:
27 (1)ENSURE THAT AN INDIVIDUAL CONTACTING THE DEPARTMENT
28 HAS ADEQUATE AND TIMELY ACCESS TO LANGUAGE AND INTERPRETIVE SERVICES;
29 (2) ESTABLISH SYSTEMS AND PROCEDURES THAT ENSURE THAT AN
30 INDIVIDUAL DOES NOT NEED TO WAIT ON HOLD BEFORE BEING OFFERED AN
31 OPPORTUNITY TO LEAVE A PHONE NUMBER TO RECEIVE A CALL BACK;
32 (3)ENSURE THAT PHONE CALLS MADE BY DEPARTMENT STAFF AND
33 CONTRACTORS APPEAR ON CALLER ID AS ORIGINATING FROM THE DEPARTMENT;
34 (4)
ENSURE THAT VOICEMAIL MESSAGES LEFT BY DEPARTMENT
35 STAFF OR CONTRACTORS INCLUDE CLEAR INSTRUCTIONS FOR NEXT STEPS,
SENATE BILL 893 3
1 INCLUDING A CALL–BACK NUMBER OTHER THAN THE GENERAL NUMBER FOR
2 UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ASSISTANCE;
3 (5) ESTABLISH PROCEDURES THAT REQUIRE ATTEMPTS BY THE
4 DEPARTMENT TO CONTACT AN INDIVIDUAL RELATED TO A CLAIM FOR BENEFITS TO
5 BE TIMED IN A WAY SUCH THAT THE CALLS OCCUR OVER CONSECUTIVE AND
6 MULTIPLE DAYS;
7 (6) ENSURE THAT THE APPLICATION FOR UNEMPLOYMENT
8 INSURANCE BENEFITS EXPLICITLY AND CONVENIENTLY PROVIDES APPLICANTS
9 WITH THREE OPTIONS FOR THE PAYMENT OF BENEFITS:
10 (I) A PAPER CHECK;
11 (II) DIRECT DEPOSIT; OR
12 (III) A STATE–ISSUED DEBIT CARD;
13 (7) ENSURE THAT IF AN INDIVIDUAL DOES NOT CHOOSE A PAPER
14 CHECK OR A STATE–ISSUED DEBIT CARD AS THE METHOD FOR RECEIVING
15 BENEFITS, BENEFITS WILL BE DEPOSITED DIRECTLY INTO THE INDIVIDUAL’S BANK
16 ACCOUNT AS THE DEFAULT METHOD;
17 (8) ENSURE THAT AN INDIVIDUAL FILING A CLAIM FOR BENEFITS IS
18 INFORMED OF THE OPTION OF AUTOMATICALLY TRANSFERRING FUNDS INTO A
19 PERSONAL CHECKING ACCOUNT AND PROVIDES A MECHANISM TO MAKE THE
20 REQUEST;
21 (9) ESTABLISH SYSTEMS, PROCESSES, AND PROCEDURES THAT
22 ENABLE AN INDIVIDUAL FILING A CLAIM FOR BENEFITS TO TRACK THE STATUS OF A
23 CLAIM, INCLUDING THE ANTICIPATED TIMELINE FOR THE RESOLUTION OF EACH
24 PARTICULAR CLAIM;
25 (10) ENSURE THAT AN OVERPAYMENT NOTICE SENT TO AN INDIVIDUAL
26 RECEIVING BENEFITS INCLUDES INFORMATION ABOUT THE CAUSE OF THE
27 OVERPAYMENT AND THE PERIOD DURING WHICH THE OVERPAYMENT OCCURRED;
28 (11) ESTABLISH AND MAINTAIN A PLAN TO:
29 (I) FILL ALL OPEN POSITIONS WITHIN THE DIVISION OF
30 UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE IN A TIMELY MANNER; AND
31 (II) IMMEDIATELY FILL ALL POSITIONS WITHIN THE DIVISION
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1 OF UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE AND RAPIDLY EXPAND PERSONNEL IN RESPONSE
2 TO A CRISIS;
3 (12) ESTABLISH AND MAINTAIN A PLAN FOR ONGOING INVESTMENT IN
4 TECHNOLOGY;
5 (13) ESTABLISH STANDARDS FOR THE TIMELY PROCESSING OF CLAIMS
6 FOR BENEFITS UNDER WHICH:
7 (I) 92% OF CLAIMS ARE COMPLETED WITHIN 21 DAYS AFTER
8 RECEIPT OF THE INITIAL APPLICATION; AND
9 (II) 97% OF CLAIMS THAT REQUIRE ADJUDICATION ARE
10 RESOLVED WITHIN 8 WEEKS AFTER RECEIPT OF THE INITIAL APPLICATION;
11 (14) ESTABLISH A SINGLE POINT OF CONTACT WITHIN THE
12 DEPARTMENT TO OVERSEE AND PRIORITIZE THE RESOLUTION OF CLAIMS THAT
13 HAVE NOT BEEN COMPLETED WITHIN 8 WEEKS;
14 (15) (I) TRACK THE PERCENTAGE OF LAID–OFF WORKERS WHO FILE
15 FOR UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE BENEFITS;
16 (II) ESTABLISH A GOAL FOR AN UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
17 RECIPIENCY RATE; AND
18 (III) PUBLISH ON A QUARTERLY BASIS ON THE DEPARTMENT’S
19 WEBSITE THE PERCENTAGE OF LAID–OFF WORKERS WHO FILE FOR BENEFITS AND
20 THE RECIPIENCY RATE;
21 (16) ON OR BEFORE JULY 1, 2021, AND EACH JULY 1 THEREAFTER,
22 CONTRACT WITH AN EXTERNAL CUSTOMER SERVICE QUALITY EVALUATION VENDOR
23 TO MEASURE:
24 (I) THE CLARITY AND ORGANIZATION OF ALL PUBLIC
25 COMMUNICATIONS INCLUDING MATERIALS POSTED ON THE DEPARTMENT’S
26 WEBSITE OR MOBILE APPLICATION;
27 (II)THE ACHIEVEMENT OF THE CUSTOMER SERVICE
28 STANDARDS REQUIRED UNDER THIS SUBSECTION AND THE DEPARTMENT’S PLAN TO
29 IMPLEMENT THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS SUBSECTION; AND
30 (III) OTHER CUSTOMER SERVICE METRICS THAT THE
31 DEPARTMENT AND THE VENDOR AGREE ARE IMPORTANT; AND
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1 (17) ENSURE THAT SUFFICIENT HIRING AND CONTRACTING IS
2 CARRIED OUT IN ORDER TO IMPLEMENT THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS SUBSECTION.
3 (B) (1) ON OR BEFORE SEPTEMBER 1, 2021, THE DEPARTMENT SHALL
4 BEGIN IMPLEMENTING A SYSTEM THROUGH WHICH AN INDIVIDUAL WHO HAS FILED
5 A CLAIM FOR BENEFITS MAY CONSENT, AS PART OF ANY WEEKLY CLAIM
6 CERTIFICATION, TO THE SHARING OF RELEVANT COLLECTED INFORMATION BY THE
7 DEPARTMENT WITH THE MARYLAND HEALTH BENEFIT EXCHANGE AND THE
8 MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE INDIVIDUAL
9 QUALIFIES FOR FREE OR LOW–COST HEALTH INSURANCE AND, IF SO, TO HELP THE
10 INDIVIDUAL ENROLL.
11 (2)
BEFORE THE SYSTEM DESCRIBED IN PARAGRAPH (1) OF THIS
12 SUBSECTION BEGINS TO OPERATE, THE DEPARTMENT SHALL ENTER INTO A
13 MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING WITH THE MARYLAND HEALTH BENEFIT
14 EXCHANGE AND THE MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH THAT ENABLES THE
15 SYSTEM TO OPERATE IN COMPLIANCE WITH ALL APPLICABLE STATE AND FEDERAL
16 REQUIREMENTS RELATED TO PRIVACY, DATA SECURITY, AND FUNDING.
17 (3) THE CONSENT REQUEST DESCRIBED IN PARAGRAPH (1) OF THIS
18 SUBSECTION SHALL BE PROMINENTLY PLACED ON THE WEEKLY CLAIM
19 CERTIFICATION FORM, USING LANGUAGE THAT CAN BE EASILY UNDERSTOOD BY
20 THE MAJORITY OF INDIVIDUALS WHO QUALIFY FOR BENEFITS.
21 (4)
THE DEPARTMENT SHALL COOPERATE WITH THE MARYLAND
22 HEALTH BENEFIT EXCHANGE AND THE MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH TO
23 CLAIM THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF AVAILABLE FEDERAL FUNDING FOR THE
24 ESTABLISHMENT AND OPERATION OF THE SYSTEM DESCRIBED IN PARAGRAPH (1)
25 OF THIS SUBSECTION.
26 (C) ON OR BEFORE DECEMBER 1 EACH YEAR, THE DEPARTMENT SHALL
27 REPORT TO THE JOINT COMMITTEE ON UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE OVERSIGHT,
28 IN ACCORDANCE WITH § 2–1257 OF THE STATE GOVERNMENT ARTICLE, ON THE
29 IMPLEMENTATION OF THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS SECTION.
30 8–611.
31 (k) (1) [The] SUBJECT TO PARAGRAPH (3) OF THIS SUBSECTION, THE
32 Secretary may waive the charge of benefits paid to a claimant against the earned rating
33 record of an employing unit if:
34 (i) the benefits are paid to the claimant during a period in which the
35 claimant is temporarily unemployed because the employing unit shut down due to a natural
6 SENATE BILL 893
1 disaster; and
2 (ii) the Governor declared a state of emergency due to the natural
3 disaster.
4 (2) If the Secretary waives the charge of benefits under paragraph (1) of
5 this subsection, the waiver may be in effect only until the earlier of:
6 (i) 4 months after the natural disaster; or
7 (ii) the date the employing unit reopens.
8 (3) (I) THE SECRETARY SHALL WAIVE THE CHARGE OF BENEFITS
9 PAID TO A CLAIMANT AGAINST THE EARNED RATING RECORD OF AN EMPLOYING
10 UNIT IF THE BENEFITS WERE PAID TO THE CLAIMANT DURING A PERIOD IN WHICH
11 THE GOVERNOR HAS DECLARED A STATE OF EMERGENCY RELATED TO COVID–19.
12 (II)
IF THE SECRETARY IS REQUIRED TO WAIVE THE CHARGE OF
13 BENEFITS UNDER PARAGRAPH (3) OF THIS SUBSECTION:
14 1.
THE DEPARTMENT IS NOT REQUIRED TO CONFIRM
15 THE REASON FOR THE EMPLOYEE SEPARATING FROM EMPLOYMENT; AND
16 2. THE SECRETARY MAY INVESTIGATE A DOCUMENTED
17 ACCUSATION OF FRAUD.
18 8–626.
19 (a) (1) [For] SUBJECT TO PARAGRAPH (2) OF THIS SUBSECTION, FOR each
20 calendar quarter, each employing unit shall submit to the Secretary a contribution and
21 employment report on or before the date that the Secretary sets.
22 (2) (I) FOR CALENDAR YEAR 2021, AN EMPLOYING UNIT MAY
23 ELECT TO DEFER SUBMITTING A CONTRIBUTION AND EMPLOYMENT REPORT FOR
24 THE CALENDAR QUARTERS ENDING ON MARCH 31, JUNE 30, AND SEPTEMBER 30.
25 (II) AN EMPLOYING UNIT THAT ELECTS TO DEFER THE
26 SUBMISSION OF A CONTRIBUTION AND EMPLOYMENT REPORT IN ACCORDANCE
27 WITH SUBPARAGRAPH (I) OF THIS PARAGRAPH:
28 1.
SHALL SUBMIT THE REPORT ON OR BEFORE THE DATE
29 ON WHICH THE REPORT FOR THE CALENDAR QUARTER ENDING DECEMBER 31,
30 2021, IS DUE;
31 2. MAY NOT BE REQUIRED BY THE SECRETARY TO FILE
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1 FOR AN EXTENSION; AND
2 3.
MAY NOT BE ASSESSED INTEREST UNDER § 8–628 OF
3 THIS SUBTITLE FOR THE PERIOD FOR WHICH THE SUBMISSION IS DEFERRED.
4 (b) An employing unit shall include in a contribution and employment report
5 information that the Secretary requires.
6 (c) (1) An employing unit that fails to submit a contribution and employment
7 report under this section is subject to a penalty of $35 unless the Secretary waives the
8 penalty for cause.
9 (2) An employing unit that submits a check or other negotiable instrument
10 in payment of any penalty under this subsection which is returned for insufficient funds is
11 subject to an additional penalty of $25.
12 8–628.
13 (a) Except as provided in [§ 8–201.1] §§ 8–201.1 AND 8–626 of this title, a
14 contribution or reimbursement payment that is due and unpaid shall accrue interest at the
15 rate of 1.5% per month or part of a month from the date on which it is due until the
16 Secretary receives the contribution or payment in lieu of contributions and the interest.
17 (b) Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section, except as provided in § 8–201.1
18 of this title, for any calendar year in which Table F is applicable under § 8–612(d)(6) of this
19 subtitle, a contribution or reimbursement payment that is due and unpaid shall accrue
20 interest at the rate of 0.5% per month or part of a month from the date on which it is due
21 until the Secretary receives the contribution or payment in lieu of contributions and the
22 interest.
23 8–803.
24 (d) (1) Except as provided in § 8–1207 of this title for the work sharing
25 program and § 8–1604 of this title for the Self–Employment Assistance Program, an eligible
26 claimant shall be paid a weekly benefit amount that is computed by:
27 (i) determining the claimant’s weekly benefit amount under this
28 section;
29 (ii) adding any allowance for a dependent to which the claimant is
30 entitled under § 8–804 of this subtitle; and
31 (iii) subtracting any wages exceeding [$50] $300 payable to the
32 claimant for the week.
33 (2) In computing benefits under this subsection, a fraction of a dollar shall
8 SENATE BILL 893
1 be rounded to the next lower dollar.
2 SECTION 2. AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That, on or before March 1, 2021,
3 the Maryland Department of Labor shall submit to the General Assembly, in accordance
4 with § 2–1257 of the State Government Article, a detailed, comprehensive, and funded plan
5 to ensure that call center staffing is adequate to allow an individual to reach a
6 departmental employee or contractor to ask questions.
7 SECTION 3. AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That:
8 (a) The Maryland Department of Labor, in collaboration with the Office of the
9 Attorney General and the Joint Committee on Unemployment Insurance Oversight, shall
10 conduct a study related to the unemployment insurance program in the State.
11 (b) The study shall:
12 (1) examine changes to the experience rating process;
13 (2) examine expanding eligibility for unemployment insurance to include
14 individuals who leave their jobs:
15 (i) for family reasons, including accompanying a spouse to a new
16 work location or to fulfill a caregiving obligation; and
17 (ii) due to job schedule volatility;
18 (3) examine reducing or suspending the impact on an employer’s
19 experience rating when the employer establishes a work sharing agreement with the
20 Department of Labor under Title 8, Subtitle 12 of the Labor and Employment Article;
21 (4) (i) examine whether the State is appropriately applying the
22 definition of employee to cover seasonal, temporary, and gig economy workers; and
23 (ii) if needed, identify changes to law or new benefits programs to
24 assist all seasonal, temporary, or