The Florida Senate passed a bill that tightens eligibility for unemployment compensation, but not in the way preferred by Rep. Doug Holder, who is carrying a similar bill in the House.
Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, took up the House version and added an amendment that would cut the number of weeks in benefits based on the unemployment rate. If the unemployment rate is 5 percent, people could claim state benefits for 12 weeks after they get laid off. For each additional one-half percentage point in the unemployment rate, they could claim an additional week of benefits.
Benefits would last a maximum of 26 weeks — the length of the period under current law — when the unemployment rate is 12 percent or higher. Right now, with the unemployment rate hovering around 12 percent, the bill would effectively cut the benefits period to 24 weeks.
Rep. Holder, R-Sarasota, said he still wants to combine the indexed cuts added by Detert — an approach that has yet to be implemented in any other state — with a cut in the maximum number of weeks, if not from 26 weeks to 20, then perhaps to 23. Detert, who happens to represent the Senate district Holder lives in, said it was unlikely the House would decline to approve her measure, which is a priority of the business community, over a difference of just a few weeks.
The Senate passed Detert’s measure, which she said is aimed at replenishing the state’s depleted unemployment insurance trust fund and preventing business unemployment taxes from rising, over the objections of Democrats who said the changes were unfair to the unemployed.