State rep files bill to restore career centers statewide

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – More than three years after the previous administration closed 31 employment offices across Kentucky, state Rep. Terri Branham Clark has pre-filed legislation that would restore most or all of those offices in the wake of the state’s experience during the coronavirus pandemic and shutdown.

In filing the legislation, Clark, a Democrat who represents District 100 covering part of Boyd County, said it has become “all too clear” the decision to close the offices “needs to be reversed.”

 Her bill would have the state re-open those career center offices, bringing the overall total to 54.

“Former Representative Kevin Sinnette sponsored this same bill in 2017, but it unfortunately was not even heard,” Clark said.  “As his successor representing the 100th House District, I recognize and agree with his efforts to establish in statute and protect local unemployment offices, because there is no doubt the need for this bill is even greater today. The Covid-19 crisis has revealed how important it is to have in-person unemployment insurance assistance near where Kentuckians live, and I am committed to continuing the efforts of my predecessor to make that happen.

“At a time when individuals find themselves in dire need, it is unacceptable that hurdles are placed – intentionally or unintentionally – to limit or prevent assistance to access earned benefits. It is our responsibility as representatives to be the voice for the people and repair broken systems,” she continued.

If enacted, her legislation would complement a 2018 law designed to make significant technological upgrades to the state’s unemployment insurance program.

“It’s just wrong that the previous administration did not move this forward for almost two years, but I’m grateful it was put back on track just before the pandemic began,” she said.  “The system has been hobbled for some time – it has been relying on software dating back to the 1970s, for example – and that, plus the loss of 90 jobs several years ago, hampered Kentuckians when they needed unemployment insurance the most.  We need a stronger safety net for workers like these, and my bill provides that.”

Her legislation will be considered by the General Assembly during the 2021 Regular Session, which will begin in January.

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