Missouri House approves new unemployment compensation schedule
The Missouri House has approved a bill that would base the number of weeks of unemployment on the average unemployment rate in Missouri, enhance the integrity of unemployment data, and provide new employers with a potential saving on their unemployment taxes.
House Bill 649, sponsored by Rep. Dan Shaul, would allow Missourians to receive 20 weeks of unemployment compensation if the state’s unemployment rate is higher than 9%. The number of weeks would be gradually reduced commensurate with unemployment rate reductions. The minimum number of weeks would be reduced to 12 weeks if the unemployment rate is at or below 5.5%. Many of these provisions were included in HB 150 passed by the legislature in 2015, but vetoed by then-Gov. Jay Nixon. The legislature overrode his veto, but the Missouri Supreme Court decided the way in which the veto override occurred was not valid, voiding the changes.
"The decision by the Missouri Supreme Court regarding the override of former governor Jay Nixon's veto of HB 150 was a stretch as there was no statute or constitutional provision supporting that decision," said Ray McCarty, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Missouri. "Essentially, the Court made law by declaring the veto override votes were not proper. This bill helps correct something the legislature addressed five years ago. It will help urge workers to get back to work, rather than continuing to collect unemployment while jobs are plentiful. I hear from employers constantly they cannot find applicants for open jobs as people continue to enjoy collecting unemployment benefits, especially with the enhanced federal unemployment benefits during COVID, and our economy is suffering as a result. This bill is sorely needed and Associated Industries of Missouri fully supports the bill," he said.
House Bill 646 also provides the Missouri Department of Labor with tools to enhance data integrity and creates the “Employment Security Business Tax Reform Act of 2021,” which would allow new businesses to enjoy lower unemployment taxes by allowing them to receive an experience rating based on their actual usage of the unemployment system 12 months after the business hires their first employee working at least 1500 hours per year.
The bill would be effective January 1, 2022. The bill now moves to the Senate for further consideration.