By Rep. Steve Mentzer (R-Lititz)
The House Labor and Industry Committee conducted a hearing last week on several bills regarding unemployment compensation assistance.
The state’s present unemployment compensation system could not handle the influx of claimants during the recession of 2008, and it, again, couldn’t handle it during this Pandemic. The General Assembly has heard of constituent hardships that have occurred in not getting unemployment compensation payments on time, the fraud occurring, and frustrating lack of communication. We need to be proactive going forward, not just for the people desperate for funds, but also for the state workers who are overwhelmed.
• House Bill 90
- Provides eligibility for unemployment caused due to a stoppage of work caused by a labor dispute, with a 30-day waiting period if not caused by a lockout.
• House Bill 129
- Requires that appeal hearings be conducted by telephone unless a determination is made that the hearing should be held in person
• House Bill 177
- Amends UC Law to strengthen requirements for claimants to requalify for benefits after being found ineligible due to a reason within their control. Specifically, this bill would require a claimant to have worked ten credit weeks and earned 15-times their benefit rate before re-qualifying for benefits.
• House Bill 390
- Amends Unemployment law to exempt H-2A visa workers and their employers from paying UC taxes on their wages.
• House Bill 535
- Amends Unemployment Law, Would require the Governor to assess the staffing needs of the UC office and UC service centers and move around existing commonwealth employees and/or hire additional personnel if the State enters an Extended Benefit period or if a disaster is declared or renewed.
• House Bill 543
- Amends Unemployment Law by adding a provision that will allow individuals with disabilities to request reasonable accommodations if they are required to take reemployment classes.
• House Bill 549
- Amends Unemployment Law as follows; removes the credit week, waiting week, and severance pay requirements. Changes the definition of solvency, and corresponding trigger percentages, to align more closely with the federal standard. Allows employers utilizing a shared-work program to have their approved plan backdated to the date it was submitted.
• House Bill 595
- Amends the definition of “unemployed” to provide eligibility for claimants that are working full-time and would otherwise be eligible for UC benefits.
• House Bill 596
- Creates Section 402.7 to provide temporary provisions to clarify eligibility issues related to COVID-19 when an employee has a necessitous and compelling reason to quit their job or good cause to refuse an offer of work.
• House Bill 597
- To expand eligibility for corporate officers, who are considered employees for the purposes of UC taxes.
• House Bill 634
- Adds a section to the Unemployment Compensation law to reduce the rate at which benefits can be recouped to pay back a fault overpayment to 50% during the disaster emergency issued by the Governor on March 6th, 2020 and any renewal to the disaster emergency.
Without question, difficulty filing for unemployment, receiving unemployment and inability to speak to or get anyone at the Department of Labor and Industry is a top issue on which my office is contacted for assistance. The current administration has not been able to address these issues so obviously legislation to fix the problems is needed.
You can follow these various pieces of legislation by visiting legis.state.pa.us