A few weeks ago, I wrote about the mess created when the federal government nearly tripled unemployment payments during the Covid outbreak, and the Missouri Department incorrectly gave out those additional benefits to people who did not qualify for them. The House’s Government Oversight Committee, which I vice-chair, investigated the matter, and determined 46,000 people received about $150 million in overpayments, but did not notify the recipients of the overpayments for months, by which time that money had been spent. To try to strong-arm recipients into repayment of money they no longer had, the department sent out letters threatening liens on their homes and garnishments of their paychecks.
So our committee decided to help these recipients. With bi-partisan committee support, I filed HB1083 to allow recipients to keep the federal portion of the overpayments. Under the bill, recipients will only need to repay the state portion, and can do that in affordable installment payments. The federal portion makes up most of the overpayments, and the feds are not asking for that money back, so it is silly for Missouri government to use taxpayer funded resources to recapture money from Missourians only to give it back to Washington DC.
On March 4, HB1083 passed the House 157-3. Not only that, the Department of Labor has now agreed to “call off the dogs” so to speak, and to pause hassling people to return the federal money until the bill becomes law. The public pressure occurring because the Government Oversight Committee shined a light on the errors made by big government bureaucracy has now pushed the department to do the right thing and offer relief to citizens that we in the legislature represent.
The Government Oversight Committee will continue to diligently monitor the actions of the various departments on this and other issues to make sure you are treated fairly by your government. HB1083 now moves on to the Senate for consideration there. I am grateful to the chairman of the committee on my colleagues on the committee for allowing me to be the voice of this bill bringing relief to our affected citizens.
Until next time, health, happiness and prosperity to you and your family.