-- — Legislative leaders are fast-tracking an unemployment bill to prevent the interruption of federal benefits for out-of-work Hoosiers, Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg) confirmed April 13.
Leising, who authored Senate Bill 86, said the legislation passed the full House April 12 by an 88-1 vote. Legislative action is required for Indiana residents to take advantage of the Extended Unemployment Benefits (EUB) program that provides additional weeks of funding for those still out of work.
“Because Congress just recently reinstated the EUB program for 2011, jobless Hoosiers are already nearing the end of their promised state benefits,” Leising said. “As Indiana lawmakers, we need to help ensure residents are able to apply for federal assistance and utilize these emergency funds.”
Leising said Gov. Mitch Daniels could sign the bill as early as Thursday to beat an April 15 deadline, allowing federal help to continue or begin almost immediately for those who file. The basic EUB program provides up to 13 additional weeks of benefits.
Senate Bill 86 still includes original provisions to protect unemployment funding by requiring Indiana’s Department of Workforce Development (DWD) to suspend unemployment benefits for individuals failing to take or pass drug tests for prospective employers.
“In cases where prospective employers find job applicants who test positive for illegal substances or refuse to take drug tests, businesses would be required to inform the DWD,” Leising said. “In the case of a failed test, the applicant’s sample would be tested a second time, and if still proven to be positive for illegal substances, unemployment benefits would be suspended. However, these individuals would have the right to an appeal.”
In Indiana, state unemployment benefits for approved applicants range between $50 and $390 per week. Most recent statistics for the state show an overall unemployment rate of 9.4 percent.