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Introduced Version House Bill 205 History

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Key: Green = existing Code. Red = new code to be enacted

WEST virginia legislature

2022 second extraordinary session

Introduced

House Bill 205

By Delegates Hanshaw (Mr. Speaker) and Skaff

(By Request of the Executive)

[Introduced April 25, 2022]



ARTICLE 10.   General provisions.

§21A-10-23. Creation of Unemployment Compensation Insurance Fraud Unit; purpose; duties; and personnel qualifications.

(a) There is hereby established the West Virginia Unemployment Compensation Insurance Fraud Unit within the offices of the commissioner. The commissioner may employ full-time supervisory, legal, and investigative personnel for the unit who shall be qualified by training and experience in the areas of detection, investigation, or prosecution of fraud within and against the unemployment compensation system. The director of the unit is a full-time position and shall be appointed by the commissioner and serve at his or her will and pleasure. The director shall be a certified fraud investigator with experience in computer technology.  The commissioner shall provide office space, equipment, and supplies, and shall employ and train personnel, including legal counsel, investigators, auditors, and clerical staff necessary for the unit to carry out its duties and responsibilities under this article as the commissioner determines is necessary.

(b) The unit shall:

(1) Initiate inquiries and conduct investigations when the unit has reasonable cause to believe violations of any provisions of §21A-1-1 et seq. of this code, West Virginia Unemployment Compensation Insurance Law are occurring, or have occurred;

(2) Review reports or complaints of alleged fraud related to the business of unemployment compensation insurance activities from federal, state, and local law-enforcement and regulatory agencies, persons engaged in the business of insurance, and the general public to determine whether the reports require further investigation;

(3) Conduct independent examinations of alleged fraudulent activity related to the business of unemployment compensation insurance and undertake independent studies to determine the extent of fraudulent insurance acts; and

(4) Perform any other duties related to the purposes of this article assigned to it by the commissioner.

(c) The unit may:

(1) Inspect, copy, or collect records and evidence;

(2) Serve subpoenas issued pursuant to §21A-2-21 of this code;

(3) Administer oaths and affirmations;

(4) Share records and evidence with federal, state, or local law-enforcement or regulatory agencies, and enter into interagency agreements. For purposes of carrying out investigations under this article, the unit shall be considered a criminal justice agency under all federal and state laws, regulations, and rules and as such shall have access to any information that is available to other criminal justice agencies concerning violations of the unemployment compensation insurance laws of West Virginia or related criminal laws;

(5) Make criminal referrals to the county prosecutors; and

(6) Conduct investigations outside this state. If the information the unit seeks to obtain is located outside this state, the person from whom the information is sought may make the information available to the unit to examine at the place where the information is located. The unit may designate representatives, including officials of the state in which the matter is located, to inspect the information on behalf of the unit, and may respond to similar requests from officials of other states.

(d) Specific personnel of the unit designated by the commissioner may operate vehicles owned or leased for the state displaying Class A registration plates.

(e) Notwithstanding any provision of this code to the contrary, specific personnel of the unit designated by the commissioner may carry firearms in the course of their official duties after meeting specialized qualifications established by the Governor’s Committee on Crime, Delinquency, and Correction, which shall include the successful completion of handgun training provided to law-enforcement officers by the West Virginia State Police: Provided, That nothing in this subsection shall be construed to include any person designated by the commissioner as a law-enforcement officer as that term is defined by the provisions of §30-29-1 of this code.

(f) The unit is not subject to the provisions of §6-9A-1 et seq. of this code, and the investigations conducted by the unit and the materials placed in the files of the unit as a result of any investigation are exempt from public disclosure under the provisions of §29B-1-1 et seq. of this code.

(g) Neither the state, a political subdivision, an agency, nor an employee of the state acting in an official capacity may be held personally liable for an act of an investigator employed by the unit if the act or omission was done in good faith while the investigator was performing official duties on behalf of the unit.

 

NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to authorize the Commissioner of Workforce West Virginia to create an Unemployment Compensation Insurance Fraud Unit; establish training and experience requirements; specify duties; grant certain authorities necessary to conduct investigations into alleged unemployment insurance fraud; authorize certain personnel to operate a state vehicle and carry a firearm; establish training requirements for carrying a firearm; exempt the Unemployment Compensation Fraud Unit from the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and the Open Government Proceedings Act; and create certain immunities for acts of an investigator employed by the unit.

Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from a heading or the present law and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.

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