TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – A bill is ready to go to the Florida House that would require upgrading the state’s online unemployment system, which largely crashed last spring amid a crush of claims caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The House Commerce Committee on Wednesday approved a bill (HB 1463), sponsored by Rep. Chip LaMarca, R-Lighthouse Point, that would require the Department of Economic Opportunity to develop a cloud-based system that “must support the efficient distribution of benefits and the effective operation and management” of the unemployment program.

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The bill is ready to go to the full House, while a Senate version (SB 1948), sponsored by Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, is slated to be considered Thursday by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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The department’s CONNECT online system became overwhelmed last spring when the pandemic led to massive job losses.

LaMarca said Wednesday that lawmakers are taking “steps in the right direction” with the House bill. But Rep. Joe Geller, D-Aventura, said the bill doesn’t go far enough because it doesn’t address issues such as increasing the amounts and lengths of benefits for people who lose jobs. “The system itself is, just, it’s a disaster,” Geller said.

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CBSMiami.com Team