By Jeff Todd

DENVER (CBS4) – As countless Coloradans continue to bemoan issues with unemployment insurance, state legislators are hoping to help fix some of the problems when the legislative session resumes next week.

“The fact that there’s gaps in people getting their unemployment assistance is tragic quite frankly. Because people need to pay for rent they need to pay for food they need to pay for child care. A lot of us are numb to hearing these stories which is tragic because they’re happening all too much because of this pandemic,” said State Rep. Dylan Roberts, a Democrat who chairs the Business Affairs and Labor Committee.

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Roberts says he heard from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment just this week asking for more money to help fix the infrastructure issues with the new software that was put online this year.

“We need to step up at the legislature to get them the resources that they need and I think the U.S. Congress needs to pass another relief package as quickly as possible,” Roberts said.

“It was a perfect storm of issues, upgrading the system, the pandemic, and just all of these people coming online at once and then the fraud on top of all of it,” said State Rep. Briana Titone, a Democrat who represents House District 27.

Titone has become well known online for helping constituents get issues addressed. She says her office has helped about 200 people in the past few months.

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“I don’t like to see anybody out there suffering. I’m in a position where I can try to help and do whatever I can,” Titone said. “If you’re down to your last dollar reach out to us and we’re here to help you.”

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Titone say she heard from CDLE leadership at a committee hearing this week that the new software system has caught and stopped $7 billion in fraud. But the software is so good at stopping fraud it’s also catching people who need assistance.

“We need to focus on the people that really, really need that help right now,” Rep. Titone said.

Phase 2 implementation of the unemployment insurance system is still 10 days away.

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“To hear it’s not working, or not working as quickly as needed, it’s frustrating. I think people understand the technological challenges that are happening, but I don’t fault anyone who is upset or scared,” Roberts said.

Jeff Todd