ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Two state Senate committees will hold a joint hearing this week to hear firsthand stories from Marylanders who have had trouble applying for and receiving unemployment benefits amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Senate’s finance and budget committees are holding the hearing virtually at 1 p.m. Tuesday. People will be able to watch the hearing on the General Assembly’s YouTube page.
As the number of unemployment claims surged due to the pandemic, some people filing for benefits reported making hundreds of phone calls and waiting on hold for hours to get help. For the week ending May 2, the state’s labor department reported receiving more than 109,000 claims.
To alleviate the issues, the state launched a new one-stop application for benefits, but within hours of its launch, it crashed due to high demand. Officials have since said the site is fully operational but some lawmakers have expressed doubts.
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“While the Administration has claimed that all issues have been addressed, constituent calls and media reports show thousands of Marylanders with the inability to receive the benefits they are entitled to so they can put food on the table,” Senate President Bill Ferguson’s office said in a news release Friday. “This hearing will provide the public an opportunity to ensure that the Administration and Department of Labor are aware of the scope of the problem Marylanders are facing.”
People can sign up to testify by noon on Monday. To sign up, click here.