Missouri Business Headlines

Committee passes bill to tie jobless benefits to state unemployment rate

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A bill to reform Missouri’s unemployment compensation system took its first step forward on Jan. 23 when it was passed by the House Special Committee on Employment Security.

The 7-5 vote moves House Bill 1409 to the House Rules committee on its way to the legislative queue for debate on the House floor.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, a Republican from Shell Knob, will help protect Missouri from the huge debts the state absorbed to be able to pay unemployment benefits during previous recessions. These debts were ultimately repaid, with interest, by employers.

House Bill 1409 addresses this problem by tying Missouri’s unemployment benefits to the state unemployment rate, providing more weeks of benefits during a recession and fewer weeks when jobs are plentiful.

Currently in Missouri, the unemployed can receive 20 weeks of benefits. This bill would change that to a sliding scale. If the unemployment rate is below six percent, benefits last 13 weeks and at nine percent or higher, benefits will last 20 weeks. Between that, every half-percent change in the rate would mean a week’s difference in benefits.

For more information, contact Matt Panik, Missouri Chamber vice president of governmental affairs, at mpanik@mochamber.com or 573.634.3511.

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