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Unemployment reform bill headed to West Virginia House again

(The Center Square) – For the second straight year, the West Virginia Senate passed a bill that would limit unemployment benefits to 12 weeks as long as the state’s unemployment rate is below 5.5%.

Senate Bill 59 now moves on to the House of Delegates. The new rules would begin Jan. 1.

“Variations of this bill have worked successfully in other states and I believe it would work successfully in West Virginia,” said Sen. Jack Woodrum, R-Summers. “It has the protections that our workers need.”

Workforce West Virginia helped craft the bill, which passed the Senate 27-5. Unemployment benefits are currently capped at 26 weeks. In the new system, benefits would be capped at 20 weeks.

“Things get tough sometimes,” said Sen. Mike Caputo, D-Marion. “Things get extremely tough. And sometimes 26 weeks is not enough. … I do know that 12 is not enough. I do know that 20 is not enough when you’re trying to pay the light bill and you’re trying to provide for your kids the same as other families are able to provide for their kids.”

The bill also adds in new stipulations for unemployment eligibility, including completing four work search activities weekly.

It would also allow for those who get part-time employment outside of their field to continue to receive their full unemployment benefits without a wage reduction if approved. Woodrum explained that the stipulation allows those making less than their weekly benefit amount from their part-time job would be eligible to continue their unemployment benefits.

Woodrum said the majority of workers are on unemployment for less than 12 weeks already.

The bill also adds new rules where claims coming from the same computer IP address or physical address, or from a foreign address, are investigated for their legitimacy.

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