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Lawmakers look at Nevada unemployment office problems

DETR responds with statement
The State of Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation building on E. St. Louis in Las Vegas
Posted at 3:59 PM, Feb 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-11 11:13:07-05

UPDATE FEB. 11: DETR provided the following statement in response to 13 Investigates questions:

"It should be noted that SB 75 is a policy bill. As such, the purpose of the bill is to fix issues in applicable statutes or to make some of the protections we've provided permanent."

"A lot of the work DETR needs to do to resolve the issues we are facing will require additional staff, new contracts with vendors, or investments to stabilize and improve our technology. No change in policy is needed. These items will be addressed in budget bills which will be presented and considered in upcoming budget hearings."
DETR Public Information Officer

ORIGINAL STORY
State lawmakers heard testimony about DETR's short fallings on Wednesday and are now looking for solutions. But 13 Investigates is hearing from critics who say the new effort is already falling short.

“This entire presentation today has been difficult to listen to, frankly, nothing short of putting lipstick on a pig. I applied in March," said Adam Francis. "I still haven't received a dime.”

RELATED: Nevada lawmakers, residents discuss issues with state's unemployment department

Francis pulled no punches in telling lawmakers what he thinks about today's hearing on Senate Bill 75, a measure that's supposed to address technical issues still delaying payments to out-of-work Nevadans.

He has little patience for jargon like "contribution rate schedule," "base period" and "remunerations rates."

Neither does the attorney representing thousands of unemployed workers.

“From my point of view, it's, it's notable for what it doesn't do,” said Mark Thierman.

“It doesn't address any of the problems--despite the representations to the contrary by DETR--with the unemployed/self-employed worker or any of the people who are not getting paid," he said. "It's basically a technical correction.”

Thierman is heading up a class-action lawsuit. It includes gig workers and independent contractors who still haven't been paid their pandemic unemployment assistance.

While he says the proposed bill could help some school district employees, Thierman says it misses the big picture.

“It's the stuff that is minor,” said Thierman. “And yet it's represented as a solution. It's not a solution. It's, it's not even a start of a solution."

"We need a comprehensive solution," he continued. "And frankly, the report in August from the Special Master and the report just a month ago from the Task Force lists the same exact things as still not being done by DETR: no communication, no expedited appeals, no issuing checks instead of pay cards to avoid fraud. None of that's happening.”

Thierman continues to advocate for the PUA claimants in court. Despite a small victory late last year with the judge demanding DETR pay certain claimants, Thierman says more needs to be done.

“What we need is a comprehensive bill, and this isn't it,” Thierman explains. “And then DETR says that it is…so they're going to go home. And the legislature's going to feel good about what they didn't do, but they wanted to.”

“People are struggling,” Adam Francis told lawmakers. “There are people out there that have been pushed so low that they're committing suicide over this."

"And DETR is just up there, they're laughing and joking like they had a great time in 2020 and they did great things," said Francis. "Apparently, they saw a different 2020 than the rest of us.”

In the meantime, attorney Thierman wants everyone to call their state lawmakers and tell them to amend SB 75 to include real solutions.

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6:38 AM, Nov 25, 2018