Unemployment scams, COVID process dominate legislative update

Kansas has lost nearly $600 million in unemployment scams, another side effect of COVID-19, which has also cost employers and employees many hours in reporting the fraud.

During a legislative coffee on Feb. 13, Rep. Brad Ralph, R-Dodge City, says the “fraud has just run rampant.”

“We don’t know where the money is going but it is gone at this point,” the lawmaker said.

The fraudulent claims started to show up at the Kansas Department of Labor in September 2020. Today there are signs the system is being fixed but it has been frustrating for lawmakers who have been asking many questions and not all have been answered.

Employers and employees will be held harmless, he said.

Ralph says other states, unfortunately, have also experienced significant losses, too.

Ford County Sheriff Bill Carr said Kansans who have been notified of a fraudulent claim should file a report right away with the Kansas Department of Labor website at www.dol.ks.gov. They should follow the reporting process outlined by the site and write down the case number. Ralph and Carr encouraged people who have been scammed to alert their banks, credit card companies and lenders.

There is information on the site about credit check services that will offer free monitoring systems and that is something for people to strongly consider as added protection, Carr said.

Some taxpayers have received 1099s and they need to let their tax preparer know about those too. Carr said it is essential to pay attention to all of the paperwork and notifications they receive.

Another downside is Kansans who have filed legitimate unemployment claims have never received their claims, either fully or payments have been delayed, Ralph said. Those Kansans are encouraged to contact their local representatives who maybe able to make an inquiry on their behalf.


Ralph said it appears the state has been doing a better job of getting vaccines to rural areas but it will continue to take time because it is based on the supply the state receives. Local city and county officials also applauded the work of Ford County Health Administrator Angela Sowers and her staff for their work in helping residents with questions about vaccinations.

Increasing the supply was a point Ralph and others in the audience agreed would help Sowers and others who are making inoculations.

Assistant City Manager Ernestor De La Rosa, Dodge City, noted that 25% of the nation’s meatpacking industry is in southwest Kansas. Dodge City alone has more than 6,000 employees at its two packing plants—Cargill Meat Solutions and National Beef—and he said only a handful of employees have been vaccinated and those employees are the ones who met the early phase requirements.

De La Rosa said it was essential the meatpacking workers receive those vaccines as quickly as possible because of their importance to the agricultural economy and community.

Highway work

Several southwest Kansas residents also asked to Ralph and other lawmakers to continue to prioritize highway improvement plans. One of the projects the state has identified has been the development of a four-lane stretch on U.S. Highway 50 from Dodge City to Cimarron as part of an overall improvement project to help with shipping routes that serve Garden City and Liberal, too. Ralph also noted that residents want to see construction of passing lanes on U.S. 50 from Dodge City to Kinsley, as an example, plus other areas and he will continue to advocate for them. One of the key supporters of southwest Kansas corridor has been Rep. Shannon Francis, R-Liberal, who chairs the House transportation committee.

Rep. Boyd Orr, R-Fowler, a farmer and rancher who regularly attends the updates, was unable to attend because of weather concerns. Kansas Sen. Bud Estes, R-Dodge City, a regular attendee to legislative updates, had been in ill health and died Feb. 13. News of his death came after the legislative update. Gov. Laura Kelly has directed United States flags be lowered from Feb. 13, until the day of interment, in honor of Estes, who represented Kansas Senate District 38 since 2017. Prior, Estes served in the Kansas House of Representatives from 2014 to 2017 and as mayor of Bucklin, Kansas from 1976 to 1990.

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The legislative coffee, which was sponsored by the Dodge City Area Chamber of Commerce, was at the Boot Hill Casino and Resort Conference Center.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected].