Sen. Bill Nelson talks about fed fixes to Florida's unemployment website

7:45 PM, Jan 20, 2014   |    comments
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CLEARWATER, Florida - U.S. Senator Bill Nelson hailed a weekend announcement regarding a possible "fix" to the state's ongoing problem with a failing unemployment website.

Prior to speaking at Clearwater's Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration, Nelson praised Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez for stepping in and approving payments to Floridians whose claims had been stuck in limbo - sometimes for months.

Since the new $60+ million website, CONNECT, was launched on October 15, 10 Investigates had been inundated with e-mails from viewers who were impacted by website problems.

Dec. 4 - State paid $60 million for broken website
Dec. 6 - New website not designed for new browsers
Dec. 11 - 10 Investigates Gov. Scott actions on website failures
Dec. 22 - State recognized problems with contractor for years
Jan. 3 - State admits website is failing Floridians

Initially, the state's Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), which was created by and is overseen by Governor Rick Scott, downplayed the issues claiming "a majority" of unemployed Floridians were getting their benefits.  But 10 Investigates disproved the claim and the state began fining contractor Deloitte for the problems.

Florida state offices were closed on Monday, so DEO representatives were not available for comment.

Nelson had plenty of criticism of the state's handling of the website launch, as well as the troubled launch of federal health care site, HealthCare.gov.

"The (Obama) administration is hugely embarrassed," Nelson said.  "They finally have it working, but as you can see, there are still problems."

Nelson says he signed himself up for health care on the website and has since used the coverage with no problems.  But he acknowledges there are still other problems to fix with the Affordable Care Act's rollout.

Nelson also answered a question about possible federal action on Florida's impending flood insurance crisis, but downplayed the suggestion of quick fixes.  Instead, he blamed Republicans in the Senate and House for stonewalling a proposed fix to the flood insurance hikes that could hit the Florida real estate market hard.

Some Republican leaders have insisted federal flood insurance rates need to be actuarially sound, which could increase rates for some policies by 10 times.

Contact 10 Investigates reporter Noah Pransky via Facebook or through his updates on Twitter.

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