(BOSTON) – This week, State Representative Joan Meschino (D-Hull) testified in support of An Act relative to waivers for non-fault overpayments (H4202) to streamline and enhance the standards to determine whether the collection of overpaid state and federal unemployment benefits accrued in 2020 and 2021 will be waived. The bill supports the Commonwealth’s workers and their families by providing clear guidance to the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) on the process and standards to consider no-fault waiver requests.

After filing the bill last month, the bill was promptly assigned to the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development and a hearing was held on Tuesday, October 19, 2021.

During the hearing, Representative Meschino, Hannah Tanabe of Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS), and John Drinkwater of AFL-CIO, spoke to the significant burdens that the clawback of overpayments have created for the Commonwealth’s workers, through no fault of their own. To meet the unprecedented scale of the current number and size of overpayments, new standards for waiving overpayments are necessary.

Representative Meschino filed this legislation responsive to numerous constituent cases in her communities. During testimony, Hannah Tanabe and John Drinkwater emphasized to the Committee that this is a problem faced by workers across the Commonwealth. The bill has quickly garnered interest. More than twenty-five legislators in the House and Senate have already signed on to co-sponsor the bill.

“This is an issue facing workers in every corner of the Commonwealth, and it is heartening to see the initial positive response to this legislation from my colleagues, from advocates, and from constituents,” said Representative Meschino (D-Hull). “By clarifying existing standards for overpayment waivers, we will ensure that the unemployment insurance program continues to stabilize workers and their families as intended during the pandemic, and alleviate some of the strain facing our workers and their families now.”

After the hearing, Chair of the House Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, State Representative Josh Cutler (D-Pembroke) reached out to his followers on social media to solicit input about the unemployment insurance appeal and waiver process from the public.

The bill now awaits action by the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development. To check for updates on this and to follow other legislation, simply create an account on malegislature.gov.

Rep. Meschino testifies at hearing held by Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development 10/19