Senate passes bills that would limit unemployment backstop
The state Senate has passed two bills imposing increased restrictions on unemployment benefits in West Virginia.
“When we have very low unemployment and we can see ‘Help Wanted’ signs all over this state, we want to be able to get people back into the workforce,” said Senate Speaker Craig Blair, pleading on MetroNews. “Talkline” that the changes would be incentives to land a new job.
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) February 8, 2022
A majority of senators voted in favor of two bills today, rejecting amendments proposed by members of the Democratic minority. The two bills, seen as a matching pair, are now before the House of Delegates for consideration.
Republican supporters of the bills said the policy change would give employers a financial break, allowing them to hire more people. Some Democrats have opposed the bills by telling stories of losing their financial security when they lost their jobs.
Senate Bill 2 would like limit eligibility benefit period to 12 weeks if the unemployment rate is below 5.5 per cent. The rate would increase by an additional week for every half percent increase in the unemployment rate, up to a maximum of 20 weeks.
This bill past 20-14.
“I think the indexing of unemployment benefits, the duration of those benefits, is an important part of planning for our future in West Virginia,” said Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Trump, R-Morgan .
“What’s so magical about 26 weeks? Half a year. It is an arbitrary number that was chosen by a previous Parliament.
Sen. Owens Brown, D-Ohio, said it’s easy to tell if you’re not unemployed.
“Twenty-six weeks isn’t that long,” he said. “I want you to go over there and find a job in 12 weeks.”
Sen. Mike Romano, D-Harrison, said elected officials share a goal of helping people get back to work. “Who wants to be unemployed? he said. “We all want everyone back to work.”
But Romano doubted the two policies would achieve that goal.
“I want proof that these two bills are going to improve unemployment in this state. I don’t just want to hope it’s going to do that,” he said. “Reducing the number of weeks will force people out of unemployment roles, but will it reduce unemployment? Will it improve participation? »
Senate Bill 3 would like require four specific job search activities one week for people receiving unemployment benefits. Examples include registering with employment offices, filling out applications for employers “reasonably expected to have job offers”, attending job fairs or taking a civil service exam.
Individuals who fail to provide a record of job search activities may be deemed ineligible for benefits.
This bill also contains an interim measure that would allow people to work part-time, up to 30 hours a week, while receiving full unemployment – a provision intended to help people continue to seek full-time employment. .
Senators voted 23-11 in favor of this bill.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Takubo, R-Kanawha, said the bill is intended to ensure good faith and consistent efforts by job seekers. Takubo said while some unemployed people are motivated to find work, others may be less aggressive.
“When someone has lost their job, it’s a devastating thing to go through,” Takubo said.
“What this bill does is say we want to help you get back on your feet, we want to support you, but we want you to actually get back into the workforce.”
Sen. Hannah Geffert, D-Berkeley, argued that some unemployed workers in West Virginia would not have the computer connectivity to meet the requirements.
“I don’t think most people in our state try to outsmart the system. They really try to play by the rules,” she said.
Senate Minority Leader Stephen Baldwin, D-Greenbrier, argued the bills do nothing to improve barriers to employment that actually keep people from working.
“The bill before us, which apparently tries to get people back to work, has nothing to do with those real barriers,” he said.
But Senate Finance Chairman Eric Tarr, R-Putnam, said the changes would reduce unemployment insurance costs for employers, reducing barriers for businesses.
“What really improves access to childcare and transportation is having employers very close to you,” Tarr said.