Unemployment extension passed

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Unemployed Minnesotans would be eligible for a 13-week extension to their unemployment benefits under a bill passed by the House 126-3.

Sponsored by Rep. Rich Murray (R-Albert Lea),  HF103 would also remove restrictions on the benefits being paid to adult children who are laid off from their parents’ seasonal businesses.

It now goes to the Senate, where Sen. John Pederson (R-St. Cloud) is the sponsor.

The bill would give Minnesotans access to a federal extension of unemployment insurance benefits recently passed by Congress and signed by President Obama. Qualifying Minnesotans would be eligible for a maximum of 86 weeks of benefits, under the change.

The extension is federally funded, and would not cost the state’s UI trust fund, which is currently $600 million in deficit. Murray said the bill would funnel $160 million in federal funds into the state’s economy.

The bill would also repeal a law enacted last year to provide no more than five weeks of benefits to individuals who are laid off from their parents’ businesses. The change was intended to prevent employers from “gaming the system” by hiring their own children for seasonal work and then laying them off so they can collect unemployment.

Rep. Denny McNamara (R-Hastings) praised the provision, and said it would impact a number of his constituents.

“Just because somebody’s family happens to work in the business that their father or mother owned, it would be really unfortunately to treat them differently than everyone else,” McNamara said.