More than two years after the pandemic began, some New Jersey residents are still having problems with their unemployment insurance claims.

One Garden State lawmaker is pushing a plan to force the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development to speed up the process of helping New Jersey residents get the benefits they are entitled to.

No prompts, a real live person

Assemblyman Ron Dancer, R- Monmouth, said his measure, A3436, would require the state Department of Labor to maintain a telephone hotline that must “be manned at a minimum, 8:30 in the morning till 5:30 at night, and you have to get a live person — no prompts, live person. I want to speak to them on the phone.”

He said individuals calling the hotline would not have to wait more than 30 minutes before being connected with an actual person.

“This bill requires that these representatives must meet minimal training requirements, they must be able to answer the questions, solve the questions. Enough is enough," he said.

The legislation specifies representatives employed by the hotline would be required to be trained to knowledgeably:

• Address general inquiries regarding the New Jersey unemployment insurance program and benefits
• Assist callers with specific claim questions, issues, concerns, and troubleshooting, including but not limited to assessing whether someone is likely to qualify for unemployment compensation.

• The representative would also need to be able to provide instructions on how to file an unemployment compensation claim, and provide assistance in obtaining and interpreting information on the 1099 tax form.

• They would also be required to provide information on an individual’s pending unemployment claim, including but not limited to, the status of the claim, potential solutions and troubleshooting of any issues regarding an individual’s eligibility or other barriers to the individual collecting unemployment compensation benefits.

Hire more people

Dancer said his measure would also require the Department of Labor to hire the people needed to do this job.

“This is not recovery mode. This is disaster, financial disaster for thousands and thousands of hardworking New Jerseyans that have paid into the insurance, and they can’t get their money," he said.

The measure would also require unemployment insurance phone hotline numbers to be prominently displayed on the Department of Labor website.

He said unfortunately this Department is still dysfunctional

“It should never have come to this, this is a calamity that has been in the process and in the making for years, enough is enough.”

Dancer said he expects support from both sides of the aisle

The legislation also stipulates the Department of Labor must process all claims for unemployment benefits within two weeks of filing by a claimant. Current law provides the Department is required to process claims within three weeks.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

Click here to contact an editor about feedback or a correction for this story.

NJ beach tags guide for summer 2022

We're coming up on another summer at the Jersey Shore! Before you get lost in the excitement of sunny days on the sand, we're running down how much seasonal/weekly/daily beach tags will cost you, and the pre-season deals you can still take advantage of!

LOOK: States With the Most New Small Businesses Per Capita

To find the top 20 states with the most new small businesses per capita, Simply Business analyzed the Census Bureau’s Business Formation Statistics from August 2020 to July 2021.

These are the best hiking spots in New Jersey

A trip to New Jersey doesn't have to be all about the beach. Our state has some incredible trails, waterfalls, and lakes to enjoy.

From the Pine Barrens to the Appalachian Trail to the hidden gems of New Jersey, you have plenty of options for a great hike. Hiking is such a great way to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature, plus it's a great workout.

Before you go out on the trails and explore some of our listeners' suggestions, I have some tips on hiking etiquette from the American Hiking Society.

If you are going downhill and run into an uphill hiker, step to the side and give the uphill hiker space. A hiker going uphill has the right of way unless they stop to catch their breath.

Always stay on the trail, you may see side paths, unless they are marked as an official trail, steer clear of them. By going off-trail you may cause damage to the ecosystems around the trail, the plants, and wildlife that live there.

You also do not want to disturb the wildlife you encounter, just keep your distance from the wildlife and continue hiking.

Bicyclists should yield to hikers and horses. Hikers should also yield to horses, but I’m not sure how many horses you will encounter on the trails in New Jersey.
If you are thinking of bringing your dog on your hike, they should be leashed, and make sure to clean up all pet waste.

Lastly, be mindful of the weather, if the trail is too muddy, it's probably best to save your hike for another day.

I asked our listeners for their suggestions of the best hiking spots in New Jersey, check out their suggestions: