Bill Text: CA AB402 | 2021-2022 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Office of the Claimant Advocate.

Spectrum: Moderate Partisan Bill (Democrat 4-1)

Status: (Introduced) 2021-02-12 - Referred to Com. on INS. [AB402 Detail]

Download: California-2021-AB402-Introduced.html


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 402


Introduced by Assembly Members Wicks and Petrie-Norris
(Principal coauthor: Assembly Member Chiu)
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Mayes and Santiago)

February 03, 2021


An act to add Article 1.2 (commencing with Section 350) to Chapter 2 of Part 1 of Division 1 of the Unemployment Insurance Code, relating to unemployment insurance, and making an appropriation therefor.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 402, as introduced, Wicks. Office of the Claimant Advocate.
Existing law establishes the Employment Development Department, administered by the Director of Employment Development, within the Labor and Workforce Development Agency and sets forth its powers and duties related to the administration of the state unemployment and disability compensation programs. Existing law provides that the expense of the administration of specified provisions relating to unemployment compensation shall be paid out of the Unemployment Administration Fund, which is a continuously appropriated fund, except as provided.
This bill would establish the Office of the Claimant Advocate, within the Employment Development Department, and would make the office responsible for protecting Californian’s rights in seeking benefits administered by the department, including unemployment insurance, disability insurance, and paid family leave. The bill would require the office to conduct several activities, including, but not limited to, establishing and enforcing a Claimant’s Bill of Rights, as provided, establishing and implementing a system that allows claimants to report violations of their rights to the office, and assisting claimants in resolving those violations. The bill would require the office to issue a yearly report to the Legislature on various data trends from the past year, including utilization of benefit programs aggregated by income level and processing times for benefit programs for both online and paper applications for benefits.
Because this bill would authorize the expenditure of funds from the Unemployment Administration Fund for a new purpose, the bill would make an appropriation.
Vote: 2/3   Appropriation: YES   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Article 1.2 (commencing with Section 350) is added to Chapter 2 of Part 1 of Division 1 of the Unemployment Insurance Code, to read:
Article  1.2. Office of the Claimant Advocate

350.
 (a) There is hereby established within the Employment Development Department the Office of the Claimant Advocate, which is responsible for protecting Californian’s rights in seeking benefits administered by the department, including unemployment insurance, disability insurance, and paid family leave.
(b) The office shall conduct several activities as part of this function, including, but not limited to, all of the following:
(1) Establishing and enforcing a Claimant’s Bill of Rights that outlines an individual’s rights to benefit programs administered by the department, including, but not limited to, a right to report violations of these rights as described in paragraph (2) and to seek help in enforcing these rights through the office.
(2) Establishing and implementing a system that allows claimants to report violations of their rights under this code to the office. The office shall be responsible for assisting the claimant in resolving those violations.
(3) Engaging claimants and advocates who represent them in identifying systemic access issues to benefits and making recommendations to solve those systemic access issues. This engagement includes, but is not limited to, reviewing a claimant’s ability to contact the department regarding basic and claim-specific information through telephonic and online means.
(4) Establishing and updating, as necessary, an internet webpage on the department’s internet website that includes information on the functions of the office and the relevant contact information for claimants to report violations of their rights and seek help in accessing benefits.
(5) Communicating to claimants and community-based organizations any proposed changes to the benefit programs, including, but not limited to, changes to the paper or online applications for benefits.
(c) (1) The office shall issue a report on a yearly basis to the Legislature that includes data on levels and trends through the past year for all of the following categories:
(A) Utilization of benefit programs aggregated by income level.
(B) Processing times for benefit programs for both online and paper applications for benefits.
(C) Systemic access issues identified by the office and recommendations and actions taken by the office to resolve those issues.
(2) A report submitted pursuant to this section shall be submitted in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code.

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