Jan 16 2014 -
A bill designed to give states flexibility on using unemployment insurance has been introduced in Washington by U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci.
It's an attempt to amend part of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 by making it easier for states to use unemployment payments for re-employment programs, said Renacci, R-Wadsworth. He introduced the bill along with U.S. Rep. John Carney, D-Delaware.
"It's a common sense bill to help with re-employment," Renacci said, adding that he hopes it will get quick action in the House.
Renacci, who represents Ohio's 16th District, said a companion bill is being prepared for introduction in the Senate. Changes proposed in the bill already have been reviewed with U.S. Department of Labor officials in recent months, he added.
The new bill — called the Flexibility to Promote Re-employment Act — has its roots in the Employ Act that Renacci introduced in 2011. Although the Employ Act died in committee, the bill's basic proposal to change how unemployment benefits are used was incorporated in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act.
But after the tax bill became law, Labor Department rules were labeled as onerous and time-consuming by states that applied for the program, Renacci said.
The bi-partisan bill will simplify the Labor Department rules, Renacci said. It also extends the program until 2017.
Renacci said he envisions programs that would allow a company to hire and train the unemployed. Money paid as unemployed benefits would instead go to the companies and cover the training costs. In that fashion, the program helps people seeking jobs and companies that need to fill jobs.
The goal should be to train people and get them back in the workforce, Renacci said.
Renacci and Carney are part of the Bipartisan Working Group, which the pair formed during Renacci's first term in Congress in 2011. House members from both parties meet regularly and try sort out agreements on a variety of issues. Renacci said he expects other members of the group will sign on as co-sponsors.
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