Unemployment bill passes House, waits for governor’s signature
The Missouri General Assembly this week took an important step in the battle to hold down unemployment costs in Missouri.
By a vote of 88-68, the Missouri House this week gave final passage to House Bill 150, legislation that reduces the number of weeks of unemployment a claimant can get as the unemployment rate goes down.
It requires the Board of Unemployment Financing to meet if the state Unemployment Trust Fund owes more than $300 million to the federal government. And the bill adjusts the point at which the contribution rates are reduced for employers, allowing more money to be retained in the Unemployment Trust Fund before contributions are reduced for employers.
The bill that is now on the governor’s desk also includes AIM-drafted language that prevents individuals receiving termination and severance pay from receiving unemployment benefits until that pay has been exhausted. Under current unemployment law, vacation time is treated the same as wages, but termination and severance pay is not. Most states have already modernized their systems to correct this problem (states like New York), but Missouri’s current law allows the unemployed to receive severance pay and unemployment at the same time.
Legislators hope that the bill will stop a chronic problem that state has had over the last 20 years of exhausting it unemployment fund, borrowing from the federal government, then having to pay the federal government back, often with funds gathered through increased rates of unemployment insurance paid by employers.
“We strongly believe this bill is fair for employers and employees,” said Ray McCarty, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Missouri. “Preventing a person that is still receiving their pay for several months through a severance package from also receiving unemployment benefits at the same time makes logical sense and allows the Unemployment Trust Fund resources to be used for those that truly need the assistance- those who are unemployed and without other sources of income,” said McCarty.