skip to main content
skip to newscasts

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Public News Service Logo
facebook instagram linkedin reddit youtube twitter
view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

Conservationists tout Indiana's old mines and brownfields to develop renewable energy; Louisiana becomes 1st state to require the display of the Ten Commandments in public schools; Black Hills Visitor Center under new joint tribal, federal oversight; Judge set to rule on massive MT logging project.

view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

Former President Donald Trump says he loves Milwaukee, civil rights groups reject designated protest zones for the RNC convention and a New York Equal Rights Amendment is restored to the November ballot.

view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

Rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town, prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands and a Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival.

Advocates Hope to Aid VA Employment Commission in Reducing Backlog

play audio
Play

Thursday, February 2, 2023   

Advocates and stakeholders have solutions for the Virginia Employment Commission to get through its backlog of unemployment appeal cases.

According to the commission, during the first year of the pandemic, unemployment claims reached historic levels.

In 2020, more than 1 million claims were filed. Although the number of claims filed has declined since then, appeals are still facing longer processing time.

The agency's issues stem from underfunding, short staffing, and lacking technology, according to a 2021 report from the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission.

Pat Levy-Lavelle, senior intake attorney at the Legal Aid Justice Center, said one way to fix the issue is hiring more staff for first-level appeals. However, pandemic-era decisions are having a ripple effect now.

"Earlier in the pandemic, the former Secretary of Labor for Virginia basically said we had focused on folks to answer the telephones, and we forgot about staffing up in terms of having enough hearing officers," Levy-Lavelle recounted.

He added while work has begun to get more people in, there have been some hiring challenges.

Other recommendations are the commission having notices written so they are easier to understand. But, Levy-Lavelle feels having stakeholders come together to review recommendations to determine their necessity, will be a good first step to improving the agency.

Recently, a bill came to a vote in the House of Delegates to cut down the number of days a person has to file an appeal on unemployment claims. Although the bill failed, some are worried strategies to aid the employment commission are not heading in the right direction.

Flannery O'Rourke, staff attorney at the Virginia Poverty Law Center, described the challenges with implementing policy recommendations.

"Any kind of legislative fix, I think, is more complicated to implement," O'Rourke contended "I think we will still see if the governor's proposed budget amendment to fund current appeals staff will go through, and there's also the governor's proposed budget amendment that will help improve the claimant self-service system."

O'Rourke added stakeholder and legislative action needs to be taken quickly. With the commission still struggling to meet current needs, she hopes things will be resolved in a timely manner, so it can better assist people with appeals.

Disclosure: Virginia Poverty Law Center contributes to our fund for reporting on Civil Rights, Housing/Homelessness, Poverty Issues, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


get more stories like this via email
more stories
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reported power plant pollution exacerbates asthma, creates new asthma cases, causes heart attacks and is the largest airborne emission of mercury. (TomKonrad/Wikimedia Commons)

play sound

Danskammer Energy is no longer seeking an expansion of its Newburgh plant. The original plan called for expanding the company's "peaker plant" meant …


Social Issues

play sound

The Black Hills National Forest is one of the latest federal lands to enter a co-stewardship agreement with local tribal nations-a management model en…

Social Issues

play sound

It is the first day of summer and time for a global event called the "World's Largest Swimming Lesson." Albuquerque's West Mesa Aquatic Center will o…


To participate in Mississippi's work-release program, individuals must be within two years of their release date and have not had disciplinary action within the last 12 months. (Tjshot/Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

play sound

Mississippi's pilot work-release program for incarcerated individuals has been extended to three years. The program allows qualified participants to …

Health and Wellness

play sound

Clinica Family Health and Mental Health Partners have announced plans to merge operations by September of this year. Mental Health Partners co-CEO …

A report by The Nature Conservancy says if clean energy continues to be sited the way it always has been, the U.S. will need an area the size of Texas to meet its climate targets. (Adobe Stock)

Environment

play sound

Today is the summer solstice, the day of the year with the most sunshine, and Indiana conservationists said they have a plan to make the best use of …

Social Issues

play sound

School children in Arkansas are learning how to grow their own fruits and vegetables through the Farm to School and Early Childhood Education program …

Environment

play sound

A Michigan nonprofit dedicated to keeping oil out of the Great Lakes is celebrating a major victory. A federal Appellate Court has ruled that …

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021