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Ga. labor chief could be stripped of power over logjam of jobless benefits

Mark Butler
Mark Butler(WRDW)
Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 11:53 AM EST
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ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia lawmakers could temporarily strip the state’s elected labor commissioner of much of his authority.

They say Republican Mark Butler has done too little to address a backlog of unemployment claims.

Lawmakers have been inundated by complaints from constituents who say they’ve been wrongly denied jobless benefits.

The Senate Insurance and Labor Committee voted Wednesday to pass Senate Bill 156, sending it on the full Senate for more debate.

The bill would create a chief labor officer who would be appointed by the governor.

The chief labor officer would serve until 2023 and be charged with improving “the reliability and timeliness” of unemployment benefits.

The labor officer would also provide financial reports to the state’s Audit Department.

Butler blames lawmakers for cutting his agency’s budget and denies it is underperforming.

The agency has paid benefits to more than 1.4 million weekly claims since last March, with a backlog of 80,000 claims left to be decided. The department said it was working through that backlog at a rate of 1,500 claims a day.

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