The U.S. Senate will vote to extend unemployment benefits as soon as the replacement for Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.V., is sworn in next Tuesday, “restoring help to millions of families retroactively, and continuing the benefits through the end of November,” in the words of our sister site The Washington Independent. But unless the Florida legislature acts to change language in state law, many Floridians may not receive the extended benefits.
Buzz reports: “Current state [law] prevents people from receiving extended benefits approved after June 5. New applicants can still receive benefits, but those who have exhausted their unemployment checks can’t continue with the next round.”
The Florida AFL-CIO has just issued a press release (.pdf) on the issue, stating that even if an extension of unemployment benefits is forthcoming from the federal government,
Florida’s workers will not be able to receive these lifeline payments because Florida Statutes include an expiration date of June 5th. As tens of thousands of Florida’s workers have exhausted their benefit payments each week, news accounts have focused on the federal role in this crisis and not addressed the fact that even if the program is re-authorized in Washington today, hundreds of thousands of workers will still lose their lifeline payments due to legislative inaction.
[Florida AFL-CIO President] Mike Williams said, “According to the Agency for Workforce Innovation, almost 35,000 workers are losing their only real source of income each week while Congress continues to stall the re-authorization of the extended benefits program. The fact that these workers and our economy will continue to suffer when Congress does act because of a single line in Florida Statutes is appalling. This program costs the state next to nothing and does not raise unemployment insurance rates for businesses. It does however, allow workers who have lost their jobs during this time of economic crisis to provide for their families and continue participating in Florida’s struggling economy.”
The AFL-CIO is calling on the legislature to fix the June 5 cutoff during next week’s special session.