State Rep. Doug Holder of Sarasota and Sen. Nancy Detert of Venice represent each other in the Florida legislature. Both are Republicans. Both want to tighten elligibility for unemployment compensation. This week, Detert agreed to a plan from Holder that would cut benefits when the unemployment rate drops.

But the two still can’t agree on their bill, a tightening of the state’s unemployment compensation that reduces benefits and makes them more difficult to obtain.

Under Detert’s latest plan, approved by the Senate this week, state unemployment benefits would last 26 weeks if the unemployment rate is 12 percent. As the unemployment rate declines, for every half a percentage point below 12, the period of benefits would shorten by one week. With the unemployment rate hovering at around 11 percent, unemployment benefits would likely now last 24 weeks.

Detert has stood firm, refusing to cut the maximum benefits period below 26 weeks, though the changes approved this week would mean benefits would only last that long during the most dire of economic downturns. Holder, however, insists on cutting the maximum number of weeks. The original House plan cut the maximum period from 26 weeks to 20. Yesterday Holder cut the number of weeks to 23, which he described as an effort to “meet in the middle” with Detert.

The House approved its version of the measure weeks ago, but now the latest changes added by Holder are headed back to the Senate for approval. Detert has warned that this volleying back and forth could jeopardize the unemployment package as a whole, with only two days left in the legislative session. That would be fine for the unemployed, who would receive fewer benefits — and have a harder time obtaining them — under either bill.

Holder says he’s confident the Senate will approve his version. After all, they approved Detert’s measure 29-10. He can afford to lose a few votes over cutting the number of weeks.

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