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Friday, December 2, 2011

GOP led state Senate passes more changes to Michigan's Unemployment Insurance program

English: Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan State Senator
Image via Wikipedia
Michigan's Senate Minority Leader
Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) called
sweeping GOP-Led changes to states'
unemployment system without the public full knowledge 'baloney'.

Just before Michigan’s unemployed job seekers are subject to a first-ever decrease in state jobless benefits claimant weeks from 26 to 20 starting January 1, 2012; Republicans in the state legislature proved their attacks on those out of work by no fault of their own, aren't over yet.

A GOP-led super-majority in the state Senate engaged in a heated debate with Democrats on December 1st on restricting Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) system program, to pay off the program $3.1 billion debt.

Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) demanded that the entire 204 pages of Senate Bill 0806 be read on the floor, to protest the measure major changes in how Michigan's UI system is funded. 

The legislation passed on a strict party line vote by a 23-11 margin. Whitmer called the move to backdoor legislate in changes to Michigan's UIA system, without the public full knowledge 'baloney'.
"I think people saw the gamesmanship going on here, the baloney," she said to MIRS.
"Unemployment is the No. 1 issue in Michigan right now. They're cramming through massive changes that are going to impact people's lives here and they don't want the public to know. And that's why we said, 'You're going to read the bill, then," she noted to MIRS.
If passed by the GOP-led Michigan House, UIA system changes would include a 'suitable work' requirement requiring claimants to take a job if it pays near 120% to the level of their UIA benefits, mandates UIA workers to conduct random “work search” audits on claimants and changes criminal law statues making it a felony for unemployment fault over $3,500. Currently, the states' UIA fraud threshold at or over $25,000 .

With the 'suitable work' change, some claimants could be required to take a job paying as little as $7.40 an hour, or minimum wage. Michigan's maximum UIA payment is $362.00 or $7240 for 20 weeks of state funded unemployment insurance, regardless what the claimant earned in hourly wages during their former employment.

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce, along with other business organizations supported the changes. Michigan's overall unemployment rate remains in the double-digits at 10.6%.

Democrats tried to offer nine amendments to SB 0806. One of the proposal included return time back that jobless Michiganders could receive Unemployment benefits from 20 to 26 weeks. Republicans then issued an “en bloc” motion to combine all Democratic proposals into one, for an up or down vote.
"Obviously, there was retaliation going on here," Senate Democratic Leader Whitmer stated.
Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) cited that despite of the second series of major legislative changes to Michigan UIA system, state Senate Democrats had the proper time necessary to study SB 0806. The measure made its way to the chamber floor, after leaving state Senatorial committee process the day prior.
"Look, we had a bill come out of committee yesterday and some people weren't prepared. They wanted all day or four or five hours to read the bills. OK, well, this side of the aisle was prepared," he stated to MIRS.
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