TOPEKA – Governor Laura Kelly today signed the Unemployment Legislation bill, House Bill 2196, which passed with bipartisan support.

“After a decade of neglect, this bipartisan legislation is another important step to address and resolve the issues facing the Kansas Department of Labor,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “Critically, this bill will support our ongoing modernization of the 40-year-old IT system that struggled to handle the record volume of claimants and newly created federal programs. This bill and the work accomplished during the legislative session will ensure that the Department of Labor will truly be prepared the next time our state faces an unprecedented economic crisis.”

Since taking office, Governor Kelly prioritized the replacement of the state’s 40-year-old unemployment computer system and started the modernization process. The unprecedented, once-in-a-century pandemic caught many states and the federal government off-guard – and left KDOL wholly unprepared to manage the historic rise in jobless claims — while at the same time combating sophisticated criminal rings that targeted state unemployment systems across the nation.

“This legislation will ensure that we complete the work we started and replace the state’s antiquated unemployment system,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “The passage of this legislation makes clear our commitment to Kansas businesses and workers to ensure that we are prepared for whatever challenges the future may hold.”

“KDOL’s focus remains getting legitimate claimants paid in as timely and efficient manner as possible,” said KDOL Secretary Amber Shultz. “The agency is also looking forward to working with the legislature and all stakeholders to move through the procurement process and push the modernization project forward.”

The legislation addresses several unemployment components that will help Kansans who have struggled to re-renter the workforce:

  • Keeps Regular Unemployment Insurance Benefits at 26 weeks through September 5th
  • Increases the number of claimants connected to employment services at the Department of Commerce
  • Ensures employers are held harmless for fraudulently filed claims
  • Expands the department’s capacity to address claimant appeals