Assemblywoman Petrie-Norris Introduces Legislation to Prevent Prisoner Unemployment Benefit Fraud

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – In an effort to prevent fraud and protect taxpayer dollars, Assembly Accountability & Administrative Review Chairwoman Cottie Petrie-Norris has introduced AB 110.

This bill requires the Employment Development Department (EDD) to access incarceration records for the purpose of cross-checking benefit applications. With this common-sense code change, EDD would be required to perform these regular checks as part of its fraud prevention efforts before approving benefits, and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) would be required to work with EDD to facilitate the cross-check process.

“The government must do a better job as custodian of our hard-earned taxpayer dollars,” said Assemblywoman Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach). “AB 110 will enable EDD to implement basic business processes so these outrageous failings aren’t repeated.”

Earlier this fall, District Attorneys across California uncovered multiple fraud rings involving state prisoners who coordinated with non-incarcerated accomplices to file unemployment benefits under the federally funded Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. Cross-checking lists of unemployment benefit claimants against incarceration data is common fraud prevention practiced in other states. However, California law is unclear whether or not inmate information can be shared with other state agencies. This bill is needed to enable EDD to easily cross-check claimants’ information, including social security numbers, against the relevant information in the database of inmate information maintained by CDCR and by the counties.

AB 110 is co-authored by Assemblymembers David Chiu and Adrin Nazarian, and Senator Ben Allen. The bill includes an urgency clause and would take effect immediately upon enactment.