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Minnesota Legislature

Extending unemployment benefits

Published (1/16/2009)
By Lee Ann Schutz
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Approximately 3,000 of the state’s unemployed could soon be eligible for an extension of their unemployment benefits.

Sponsored by Rep. Tim Mahoney (DFL-St. Paul), HF4 would change the way the state computes the unemployment compensation eligibility period.

The bill is being fast-tracked to the House floor.

In less than an hour on Jan. 13, the bill was approved by the House Labor and Consumer Protection Division and the House Commerce and Labor Committee. On Jan. 15, it was approved by the House Bioscience and Workforce Development Policy and Oversight Division and the House Higher Education and Workforce Development Finance and Policy Division. It awaits action by the House Finance Committee.

The bill’s companion, SF4, sponsored by Senate President James Metzen (DFL-South St. Paul), was passed 65-0 on Jan. 15.

Lee Nelson, chief attorney for the Department of Employment and Economic Development, said the method the state uses to compute eligibility has made about 10 percent of those who could qualify for the federal extension enacted in July ineligible for the benefit.

“The people have worked long enough to qualify, but the dates by which the state uses are a problem for qualification,” he said.

With unemployment in the state expected to rise in the coming months, the department has calculated that an additional 150 Minnesotans would qualify for the extension each week.

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