Bills unveiled to fix MI unemployment benefits system

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s unemployment benefits agency would assess smaller penalties on jobless workers who are found to have committed fraud under newly introduced bipartisan legislation.

The change is included in an eight-bill package unveiled by lawmakers Thursday. The measures were drafted in response to the Unemployment Insurance Agency falsely accusing tens of thousands of beneficiaries of fraud.

A new state law prohibits fraud determinations based solely on computer-identified discrepancies. But legislators from both parties say other improvements are needed.

Under one bill, the agency could no longer assess 400 percent penalties above and beyond the amount that people pay back. It’d be 100 percent.

People accused of fraudulent claims would be eligible for help from an advocacy program instead of having to represent themselves or hire a lawyer.