NASHVILLE, Tenn., Feb. 16 2016— Tennessee State Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden) has introduced legislation that will require able bodied, job ready Tennessee citizens to prove they have been searching for a job before receiving certain welfare benefits. Benefits applicants will be required to apply for at least three separate jobs and provide verifiable documentation of their job applications to the State.
“We’re seeing a lot of welfare abuse in the State of Tennessee, and something has to be done about it. During the recession, the federal government vastly extended welfare benefits. Today, many people are still receiving benefits that shouldn’t be,” said Holt. “This abuse has taken resources away from people that actually need help, and is a massive burden to Tennessee tax-payers. In fact, current law virtually allows an individual to commit unemployment fraud for up to 8 weeks before actually being disqualified. That’s unacceptable.”
Holt’s legislation seeks to change or strengthen the law in three ways:
1.) Currently, people claiming unemployment are asked to provide proof to the Department of Labor that they have contacted at least 3 potential employers per week. However, compliance is only measured by random audits. Holt’s legislation will require that all able bodied, work-ready individuals receiving benefits are verified rather than randomly audited.
2.) Next, if an individual is caught defrauding the system, they can currently do so for up to 8 weeks without even losing their benefits. “That’s just ridiculous, says Holt. “If you’re caught committing unemployment fraud, and are taking away resources from those that need them most, I don’t care if it’s for one day. You’re out. So, we’ll be removing that 8 week window that basically legalizes unemployment fraud.”
3.) Finally, the law currently allows someone to be compliant as long as they are searching for a job ‘within their usual occupation’, rather than actually searching for any job that may be available. “Under current law, I can say that I’m an underwater basket weaver and simply cannot find a job. Therefore, I still get unemployment,” Holt said. “If there is an available job out there, you should be applying so long as you are able of doing the work.”
State Senator Mark Green (R-Clarksville) will carry the Senate version of the bill.