Wisconsin GOP Wants to Spy on Bank Accounts of the Unemployed

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
article imagearticle image

Republicans in Wisconsin are pushing legislation that would allow the government to view the bank accounts of anyone seeking unemployment and freeze those accounts if it believes the person has been overpaid on benefits.

“This is to protect the workers and lessen the burden on employers who are paying all the bills,” said co-author of the bill, Rep. Dan Knodl, R-Germantown.

The bill was introduced in the assembly and senate on Friday. It is scheduled for committee hearings on Wednesday in both houses.

The law would no longer extend benefits to individuals undergoing vocational training or basic education courses.

The unemployed will have to apply to twice as many jobs if they want to remain eligible for benefits. That’s four job applications per week.

The bill also requires financial institutions to disclose the account information of anyone who owes money to the unemployment system. The government could freeze a bank account to recover funds, even if the overpayment was because of an error on the government’s part.

Rep. Christine Sinicki, D-Milwaukee, said the law goes against working people and the middle class.

Knodl aims to move Wisconsin’s unemployment fund to solvency. The state currently owes $476 million to the federal government for unemployment benefits.

Earlier versions of Knodl’s bill would have lowered the number of weeks a person could collect unemployment if the jobless rate fell. Knodl said he still supports that proposal.

The Wisconsin Assembly Bill 219 and Senate Bill 200 will go before legislative committees on Wednesday.

Sources: Raw Story, PolicyMic, Wisconsin State Journal