Kansas lawmakers seek more control on unemployment upgrades

Capitol Bureau

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly answers questions during a news conference, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. The Democratic governor is facing increasingly vocal criticism from the Republican-controlled Legislature over problems at the state Department of Labor, that include a flood of fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican lawmakers are moving to exert more control over upgrades of Kansas’ unemployment benefits system.

A key GOP legislator has even suggested stripping Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly of her control over the state Department of Labor.

The Kansas Senate Commerce Committee continued hearings Wednesday on a bill that would create a new council to monitor the department’s technology upgrades, direct the agency to modernize the unemployment system by the end of 2022, and make other changes in the unemployment system.

Kelly has blamed numerous delays in getting benefits to workers during the coronavirus pandemic and other problems on a decades-old computer system.

But Commerce Committee Chair Rob Olson suggested removing the governor’s control over the department.

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