Honolulu, Hawaii



RE:    H.B. No. 925




Honorable Donna Mercado Kim

President of the Senate

Twenty-Seventh State Legislature

Regular Session of 2013

State of Hawaii




     Your Committee on Judiciary and Labor, to which was referred H.B. No. 925 entitled:




begs leave to report as follows:


     The purpose and intent of this measure is to improve the processing of unemployment insurance claims by:


     (1)  Revising the minimum notice period for an unemployment insurance appeal hearing from fifteen days to twelve days before the initial hearing date; and


     (2)  Authorizing a claimant or party to an appeal to elect to receive notices and appeal documents from the Employment Security Appeals Referee's Office electronically in lieu of mail.


     Your Committee received testimony in support of this measure from the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.


     Your Committee finds that section 91-9.5(a), Hawaii Revised Statutes, requires that written notice of a hearing be mailed to all parties at least fifteen days prior to the hearing date, unless otherwise provided by law.  This is a statutory requirement that applies to the Employment Security Appeals Referee's Office in providing notice of unemployment insurance appeal hearings.  The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations testified that pursuant to the Social Security Act, procedures for appeals and hearings are required to be reasonably calculated to pay benefits promptly when due.  Thus, applicable federal performance standards require that the Referee's Office complete sixty percent of its decisions within thirty days of the appeal request and eighty percent within forty-five days.  Accordingly, the existing fifteen day statutory notice requirement consumes half of the thirty-day completion period.  Failure of the Referee's Office to meet federal performance standards could potentially result in federal oversight of the appeals program.  Furthermore, the Department testified that in implementing the same federal unemployment appeals program, other states have notice periods ranging from five to eleven days.  Hawaii is the only state with a statutory notice requirement of fifteen days.  This measure reduces the notice period for unemployment insurance appeals to twelve days prior to the hearing date, thereby allowing the parties to receive an earlier hearing date and appeal decision and providing the Referee's Office greater flexibility in meeting federally required performance standards.


     Your Committee further finds that existing law does not specifically allow the Referee's Office to electronically provide hearing notices, decisions, and other appeal documents in lieu of notice by mail.  The Department testified that the Referee's Office will shortly launch an online appeals filing, scheduling, and maintenance system.  This measure permits the delivery of appeal notices and documents through a faster, more efficient, and more cost-effective means for individuals who voluntarily elect to receive notification electronically.


     As affirmed by the record of votes of the members of your Committee on Judiciary and Labor that is attached to this report, your Committee is in accord with the intent and purpose of H.B. No. 925, and recommends that it pass Second Reading and be referred to the Committee on Ways and Means.


Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of the Committee on Judiciary and Labor,