Missouri’s unemployment compensation fund may be closer to full-time solvency with Tuesday’s override of Governor Nixon’s veto of House Bill 150.
The override was achieved by a 109-53 vote in the House, the exact number of votes needed to override a governor’s veto.
The legislation links the duration of jobless benefits to the state’s unemployment rate. If the unemployment rate remains under six percent, laid-off workers would be limited to 13 weeks of unemployment benefits. The current state unemployment rate is 5.6 percent. The bill also contains an AIM-drafted amendment to exclude termination and severance pay from unemployment benefits. Under current unemployment law, vacation time is treated the same as wages, but termination and severance pay is not.
The bill was sponsored in the House by Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick (R-Shell Knob). Similar legislation was vetoed by the governor last year, overridden in the Senate, but failed an override motion in the House. Fitzpatrick told colleagues during debate on the House floor Tuesday that the bill is an important step in keeping the unemployment fund solvent during tough economic times.
“In all five of the last recessions, we have bankrupted our fund,” said Fitzpatrick. “We can’t just keep repeating this cycle of running out of money and borrowing from the federal government. It makes sense to make the fund solvent for the long haul.”
The bill now moves back to the State Senate for another override attempt. It will take 23 Senators voting for the override to put the bill into law over the governor’s objections. Associated Industries of Missouri president Ray McCarty says the clock is ticking with a little more than three days remaining in the legislative session.
“We are gratified by the actions taken by the House of Representatives, but we have a long way to go,” said McCarty. “While we are optimistic about the chances of an override in the Senate, we need to make sure that this bill makes it to a vote before the end of the session. This bill helps protect the Unemployment Trust Fund by eliminating the ability of unemployed workers with golden parachutes to obtain unemployment benefits until after the severance pay is exhausted. Current law allows such workers to collect benefits while receiving severance pay.”
Below is video coverage of the passage of the bill from House Communications.