The Missouri Senate has voted do pass two important pieces of legislation that would reform the unemployment compensation system in Missouri and ensure solvency in the fund. Senator Mike Kehoe (R) and Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick (R)have sponsored SB 220 and HB 150, which would adjust the number of weeks jobless Missourians can receive unemployment benefits based upon the unemployment rate.
Under both bills, unemployed Missourians would be eligible for:
- 20 weeks of benefits if the Missouri average unemployment rate is nine percent or higher;
- 19 weeks of benefits if the Missouri average unemployment rate is between 8.5 percent and 9 percent;
- 18 weeks of benefits if the Missouri average unemployment rate is 8 percent up to and including 8.5 percent;
- 17 weeks if the Missouri average unemployment rate is between 7 .5 percent and 8 percent;
- 16 weeks of benefits if the Missouri average unemployment rate is 7 percent up to and including 7.5 percent;
- 15 weeks of benefits if the Missouri average unemployment rate is between 6.5 percent and 7 percent;
- 14 weeks of benefits if the Missouri average unemployment rate is 6 percent up to and including 6.5 percent;
- 13 weeks of unemployment benefits if the Missouri average unemployment rate is below 6 percent
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry is the lead advocate of this legislation and has testified multiple times on its behalf when previous versions have been heard in past legislative sessions. The bill awaits an official vote in the Senate before going to the governor for his consideration.
Also voted do pass in the Senate Small Business Committee was Sen. Brian Munzlinger’s SB 406, which would permit the recovery of overpaid unemployment compensation benefits. Whether through fraud or mistake, any erroneous overpayment from the unemployment compensation fund is required by law to be paid back to the fund. The Missouri Chamber supports this legislation, which gives the Department of Labor a mechanism to collect the overpayments.
“It is important to ensure that the money in the unemployment trust fund is used appropriately, and when it’s not, the Department has the tools needed to collect the erroneous overpayments,” said Tracy King, vice president of governmental affairs for the Missouri Chamber. “Without this legislation some of the money may never be returned to the fund.”
The bill would allow the department of Employment Security to recoup the funds through billings, tax refund offsets, lottery winnings and collection efforts.
For more information on unemployment insurance legislation, contact Tracy King, Missouri Chamber vice president of governmental affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 573-634-3511.