FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear on Friday signed legislation allowing the state to waive the overpayment of some pandemic-related unemployment claims.

The bill, which won bipartisan support, applies to some people who left their jobs early in the pandemic due to concerns about exposure to COVID-19. At the time, as Beshear encouraged people to stay “Healthy at Home,” the state signaled they’d be eligible for jobless assistance. Recipients, however, were later informed the money had to be given back.

Beshear’s administration pointed to the U.S. Labor Department for the mix-up.

On Friday, the Democratic governor said in a social media post that signing the measure was “the right thing to do to help Kentuckians as we recover from the pandemic.”

The bill’s main sponsor was Republican Sen. David Givens.

The measure seeks to remedy the unintended problem that was hanging over some Kentuckians. It allows the state Labor Cabinet to waive overpayments when the unemployment office was at fault. Recipients would be expected to request the waiver.

Lawmakers had pointed to the hardships the reimbursements would cause people who, through no fault of their own, were being asked for the money back.

“Those folks were using that money to buy groceries and pay utilities and pay other bills,” Republican Rep. Russell Webber said during a House debate. “Many of them did not have it.”


The legislation is Senate Bill 7.