State Chamber Praises Passage of Unemployment Benefit Legislation

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 17, 2013) – Today’s Senate passage of House Bill 1911 will help ensure unemployment benefits are protected for those who truly need the program, the State Chamber’s president said today.

The legislation further defines “misconduct” in the law, meaning that people with unexplained absenteeism, dishonesty or violation of the law, among other offenses, will no longer be able to collect unemployment benefits when let go for those actions.

“Unemployment benefits serve as a much-needed safety net for employees who, for reasons out of their control, find themselves unexpectedly out of a job. There are millions of Americans who have properly used unemployment as a bridge between jobs, allowing them to keep food on their family’s table and a roof over their heads,” said State Chamber President Fred Morgan. “However, there are also people abusing the system, which ultimately only hurts those who need the safety net the most.”

Last year, the State Chamber joined with Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb and the Oklahoma Department of Commerce and the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance to hold six Small Business and Manufacturer Summits, where hundreds of small business owners expressed the growing problem of unemployment fraud. Many talked of having many jobs sitting open but are unable to fill them because some workers would rather stay on unemployment than come back to work.

“We do not believe this is good for Oklahoma’s economy or the workers genuinely seeking gainful employment,” said Morgan.

Unlike many states, Oklahoma has historically had a financially sound Unemployment Insurance system and is one of the few states in the nation which has never needed to borrow from the U.S. Department of Labor to fund its UI system. House Bill 1911, authored by Speaker T.W. Shannon and Sen. Dan Newberry, will help ensure that continues to be the case.

“As our state and nation continue to recover from recession, it is critical that our unemployment system remain a healthy safety net for workers who have a legitimate claim to benefits and are seeking employment elsewhere,” said Morgan. “Passage of House Bill 1911 will ensure the program is maintained for those who truly need it, eliminate fraud and abuse, while also addressing increasing costs on employers so they can continue to expand and hire more workers.”

The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 33-9 and now goes to Gov. Mary Fallin for her signature.

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Contact: Jennifer Monies

jmonies@okstatechamber.com

405-235-3669