May 4, 2021
The 2021 Legislature is in the books. From my seat, partisan opponents agreed on very little throughout the session. However, unemployment insurance reforms ultimately garnered unanimous support in both chambers.
With dialogue throughout 2020 regarding concerns of unemployment fraud, identity theft and huge business tax implications, it became apparent just how large the problems truly were once the session kicked off. By early February, the full impact and concerns of earlier discussions seemingly became THE issue of the session as legislators were contacted daily by constituents recounting their personal frustrations and concerns with the broken system. The antiquated and vulnerable Kansas UI system needed immediate attention.
HB 2196 provides common sense and evidence-based UI reforms that will better serve all Kansans and Kansas employers in the short- and long-term. The reforms will help small businesses get back on their feet, get to the heart of hiring employees back into the workforce, hold employers and employees harmless from fraud and/or COVID-19 related charges, and ultimately ensure Kansas has a modern unemployment insurance IT system to avoid bottlenecks and pain points for everyone during future economic downturns.
A sincere thank you to Representative Sean Tarwater and Senator Rob Olson for leading the charge on this huge and important undertaking. Also, special thanks also goes to Representatives Marty Long, Steven Johnson, and Stephanie Clayton, Senators Mark Steffen, Caryn Tyson, and Tom Holland, and their colleagues from across the state.
The practice of democracy isn’t easy, with or without a pandemic, and I tip my hat to all of you.
Phillip M. Hayes