Lawmakers Put Unemployment Reform Bill On Hold

Feb 24, 2016

Republican State Representative Barbara Sears is the sponsor of the measure

A controversial bill that would cut unemployment insurance benefits in Ohio is temporarily on hold.

Ohio Public Radio's Karen Kasler reports.

The bill seeks to shore up the fund through which the state pays unemployment
benefits before another recession. It cuts the amount businesses pay to that fund,
because its sponsor says they’ve been paying penalties and surcharges into the fund
for more than a decade. But the bill also shortens the window for jobless workers to
get unemployment checks from 26 weeks to between 12 and 20 weeks. And it cuts extra
benefits to workers with dependents, and deducts some Social Security payments from
benefits. Republican Rep. Barbara Sears of northwest Ohio acknowledges there were
questions raised about her bill by Senators.
“We’re going to be looking at all the different components, and certainly weeks is a
major portion of the bill – it’s one of the largest changes.”
Advocates for low-income Ohioans had blasted the bill as unfair to workers, and said
it would make it harder to qualify for benefits in Ohio than any other state. Lisa
Hamler Fugitt with the Ohio Association of Food Banks is among the activists for
hundreds of groups who’d called on lawmakers to scrap the bill entirely and start
“We look forward to working with the legislative group that will be convening, and
firmly believe that stakeholder input, not an insider deal, is needed to fix the
unemployment system in the long term.”
Sears stands behind her bill, saying this pause isn’t unusual for a big piece of
legislation and she still expects it to pass before the end of the year.