RALEIGH — North Carolina's unemployed should have to keep showing photo identification and prove they're looking for work each week if they want to keep receiving jobless benefits, Gov. Pat McCrory said Monday.
The governor, speaking at a Raleigh unemployment office, said he wants the General Assembly this year to pass a law that affirms new state policy requiring people to present photo IDs as part of the benefit process. The Division of Employment Security already has been asking for ID in recent months as a way to curb fraud.
"Having a photo ID will get the right people the unemployment insurance we need," McCrory said at a news conference highlighting recent improvements within the Division of Employment Security and his wish list for the agency at the legislature, which reconvenes Wednesday.
The photo ID demand is part of a process that began March 1 requiring people to come in person to a local workforce solutions office within four weeks of receiving their initial benefit. There, people meet with a specialist who is supposed to assist them with finding suitable employment.
Dale Folwell, the assistant commerce secretary in charge of the Division of Employment Security, said most young people already following requirements to show a photo identification when they start a job. "Why should it not also be a requirement to get unemployment?" Folwell asked.
Photo ID has been a sensitive issue ever since McCrory signed into law a requirement for voters to show IDs at the polls starting in 2016. Four lawsuits are challenging the mandate.
McCrory and Folwell also want lawmakers to increase work search requirements needed to keep qualifying for benefits while providing flexibility. Currently, people must make two different contacts with potential employers on two different days in a week. The change would increase the contacts to five, but they could be performed all on the same day.
A legislative study committee late last week recommended the photo ID requirement to the full General Assembly.
Folwell and McCrory used the news conference to highlight improvements in the division since the governor took office and hired Folwell, a former state House member.
Folwell was brought in to carry out a law passed in early 2013 that reduced maximum benefits and the number of weeks of benefits the unemployed could collect. The changes, which also included some higher taxes for employers, were designed to eliminate more quickly $2.6 billion owed the federal government to pay for benefits during the Great Recession. The amount has fallen to $1.1 billion as of Friday, Folwell said.