AUGUSTA - The Maine Legislature’s Labor and Housing Committee will meet next Wednesday, May 6 at 1:00 p.m. The committee has invited Department of Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman for a briefing on the state’s unemployment insurance system. The meeting will be broadcast over the Legislature’s audio system. Additional organizational details will be released in a separate message.
Senate President Troy Jackson and Speaker Sara Gideon released the following statement:
“Mainers across the state are hurting. The number of unemployment claims are record-breaking and each claim represents a person facing a dire financial situation. To ensure Maine people receive the benefits they’re entitled to during this public health crisis, we are convening a meeting of the Labor and Housing committee. Last week we joined with members of Republican leadership, Senator Dow and Representative Dilligham, to request Commissioner Fortman’s presence to discuss any challenges the Department may be facing, including, but not limited to the complexity of implementing novel federal programs, limited staff resources, and information technology infrastructure. We strongly believe that Maine people will be better served if we work together to resolve these issues as the Department of Labor is tasked with a historical challenge.”
Senator Shenna Bellows, D-Manchester, Senate Chair of the Legislature’s Labor and Housing Committee released the following statement:
“We all deeply appreciate the remarkable efforts of the Department of Labor to deliver over $200 million in unemployment benefits to more than 70,000 Mainers. The team of just thirteen workers at the Maine Department of Labor handling this has gone above and beyond to deliver. At the same time, thousands of Mainers have experienced serious problems with the system, and we're acutely aware that it's going to get worse before it gets better. We need to make sure the Department of Labor hears what's happening with our constituents, and we need to work collaboratively with them to fix these problems as soon as humanly possible."
Rep. Mike Sylvester, D-Portland, House Chair of the Legislature’s Labor and Housing Committee released the following statement:
“The process of ensuring Mainers have the benefits that they need, and are entitled to, most certainly has been difficult in the midst of COVID-19. Our committee looks forward to working with the Department of Labor to ensure they have everything they need moving forward to keep unemployed workers from drowning in debt.”
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act