Just two days after being grilled again by state lawmakers in both parties, the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DOLIR) is suspending all collection of unemployment overpayments, at this time.

Missouri House Special Committee on Government Oversight Chair Rep. Jered Taylor (R-Nixa) speaks on the House floor on March 4, 2021 (file photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

Missouri House Special Committee on Government Oversight Chairman State Rep. Jered Taylor (R-Nixa) made the announcement on the House floor Thursday in Jefferson City, to bipartisan applause.

“So I just want to let the members (state representatives) know that all collection efforts for all Missourians, 46,000 people who are having overpayment collection efforts being taken on them right now, are all on pause and again that’s due to the work that our (oversight) committee did so thank you, Mr. Speaker,” Chairman Taylor says.

DOLIR has posted a short message on its website, which confirms what Chairman Taylor said on the floor.

DOLIR has testified that the state overpaid more than $150 million in unemployment benefits last year and that 46,000 Missourians have been impacted by the unemployment overpayments.

Taylor says collections are being suspended “until we get the work done in this body.”

“And it’s due to the good work of the Government Oversight Committee, so I just wanted to thank the members for holding the Department (of Labor) accountable and holding them to what they agreed to to our body,” says Taylor.

State Rep. Raychel Proudie (D-Ferguson), the oversight committee’s ranking Democrat, has raised the same concerns that Taylor has.

The issue has been the subject of several bipartisan hearings by the Oversight Committee, which also learned about the COVID pandemic’s massive impact on Missouri’s economy and on the unemployment system.

DOLIR Director Anna Hui testified in February that Missouri paid out $236 million in unemployment benefits in 2019. That number increased to $5.1 billion in 2020, due to the pandemic.

During that February hearing, lawmakers in both parties said that Missourians who didn’t commit fraud should not have to repay money, because the state made the error.

State Rep. Richard Brown (D-Kansas City), the assistant minority floor leader, told Director Hui that a woman he knows received a letter in January, asking her to repay $23,000. Representative Brown has said the woman doesn’t have the money.

During the February hearing, State Rep. J. Eggleston (R-Maysville) read a letter from a northwest Missouri teacher who was told that she must repay $9,000, because of the state’s error. Representative Eggleston said that day that the teacher wishes she had been denied unemployment, to begin with.

Click here to listen to the short announcement from House Special Committee on Government Oversight Chairman State Rep. Jered Taylor (R-Nixa), which was made on the Missouri House floor on April 15, 2021:

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