Plan to cut jobless benefits surfaces again in Missouri

Lawmakers are again considering a plan to slash the maximum number of weeks Missourians can claim jobless benefits to one of the lowest in the nation.

Five months after the Missouri Supreme Court found a 2015 version of the change unconstitutional, a House panel heard testimony Tuesday about the latest proposal to shorten the length of time laid off workers could receive benefits from 20 weeks to 13 weeks if the jobless rate is below 6 percent.

Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, R-Shell Knob, told members of the committee that the plan would not only benefit the state during a tight budget year, but it also could help businesses by shoring up the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund.

The measure, which would go into effect in late August, has the support of business groups, including the National Federation of Independent Business and the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Labor groups opposed the change, saying the shorter duration for benefits could force some laid off workers onto welfare.

The measure is among a handful of high-profile pro-business initiatives launched this session by the Republican majorities in the House and Senate.

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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