Texas lawmakers discuss potential improvements to Texas Workforce Commission

After hundreds of thousands of Texans faced huge delays trying to get their unemployment in the unprecedented crush of claims, lawmakers on Tuesday tried to come up with ways to improve the system.

The bills discussed dealt with secondary policy issues that arose -- like not being able to work because there is no school or childcare and excusing people from accepting jobs that are unsafe.

On Tuesday, State Rep. Chris Turner talked about his bill aimed at solving some of the issues Texans have faced.

"My office received hundreds of thousands of calls from constituents who lost jobs no fault of their own, due to the pandemic and they need help," Turner said.

Turner says his bill aims to address the more long term issues at TWC, not those resulting from the recent surge in claims.

"We dealt with constituents who had more than a problem getting claim processed," Turner said.

Turner's bill would offer benefit protections for people who are concerned about returning to unsafe work environments. It would also publicize a program that allows workers with reduced hours to receive benefits.       

The legislation presented Tuesday did not deal with the massive identity theft issues that have left people like Joesph Santos without a safety net.

"I am 47 years old, never applied for unemployment, thought that this is what it was there for, when you needed it," Santos said.

Santos has been trying since early February, when he was first notified he would be laid off. But when he applied he learned someone else had stolen his identity and beat him to his benefits. That put what feels like a permanent flag on his name.

"I’m trying to get ahold of that one person who could take that off. I haven't been able to find that individual," he said.