Anne Arundel County tried to present Gov. Larry Hogan with a petition Friday morning urging him to better the state’s unemployment insurance system as a record number of people seek help because of widespread job loss during the coronavirus pandemic.
Yasemin Jamison, 53, of Arnold, said she and two friends tried to talk to the governor, first in the State House and then at Governor’s Mansion, the official residence. After being rebuffed at both buildings, the handed the petiton to a a staff member at a mail facility nearby.
A self-employed massage therapist, she had to shut her studio down because of the pandemic. And she says the process of filing for and getting unemployment has been treacherous and stressful.
The deluge of applications overwhelmed the state’s phone lines and unemployment website, prompting officials to unroll a new unemployment portal called Beacon One-Stop and to shift resources to answer calls.
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Jamison said she has gotten her money. But her children haven’t and they can’t get anybody on the phone to figure out what’s wrong. The frustrations are boiling over.
“I’ve tried every single number. I’ve tried emailing," Jamison said. "I’ve tried sending letters to every single one of my delegates and senators.”
At least 300 Anne Arundel County residents signed the petition saying the system is not good enough. They want Hogan to allow applications to be completed exclusively online, implement a numbered call back system, hire a new company to handle calls and applications and payout pending claims immediately, according to the online petition.
Jamison said on separate occasions she’s waited for seven hours on hold and one time dialed up to 187 times. She said friends and colleagues have relayed similar struggles.