Missouri Senate Approves Amendment to Cut State Unemployment Benefit Weeks

Breaking News:  Having failed to break a continuing filibuster of a bill to renew federal extended benefits in Missouri, the state Senate just approved an amendment to cut the maximum weeks of regular state unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to 20 weeks.

(UPDATED Friday, April 8)

An orchestrated agreement to allow the amendment, which, Senate sources confirmed, had been sought by lobbyists for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, also let debate proceed on a bill to continue the lapsed federal extended benefits for long-term unemployed Missouri workers.  A vote on that bill had been blocked for weeks by Senators Jim Lembke, Brian Nieves, Rob Schaaf and Will Kraus, and the delay had caused the federally-paid extended benefits to be cut off April 2nd to nearly 10,000 unemployed job-seekers in the state.

The agreement also included a pledge by state Senate leaders to cut $250 million of the $538 million in federal funds already allocated to Missouri for economic, infrastructure and worker training projects.

Due to changes in the bill, it now must go back to a legislative fiscal committee before proceeding to a full Senate vote, which is expected next week.  Because the bill would differ from the version passed weeks ago in the state House, that body would then need to approve the new Senate version, or send it to a legislative conference.

Should the bill be approved with the amended cuts to the maximum week of regular state unemployment insurance benefits, those cuts would also have the effect of decreasing the available weeks of future federal benefits in Missouri for all of the federal emergency tiers and extended benefit programs, according to the state Labor department.

There was no immediate response from Governor Jay Nixon (D), but officials said they were preparing an analysis of the impact of the unemployment benefit changes for the Governor.

We will have full, detailed coverage and responses in upcoming posts.

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