Missouri Senate adds important amendment to unemployment bill

The Missouri Senate this week gave final passage to legislation designed to hold down the costs of unemployment in Missouri.

HB150 reduces the number of weeks of unemployment a claimant can get as the unemployment rate goes down. It requires the Board of Unemployment Financing to meet if the state Unemployment Trust Fund owes more than $300 million to the federal government. And the bill adjusts the point at which the contribution rates are reduced for employers, allowing more money to be retained in the Unemployment Trust Fund before contributions are reduced for employers.

In addition, among changes to the bill approved by Senators Monday night, was an AIM drafted amendment by Senator Mike Kehoe to exclude termination and severance pay from unemployment benefits. Under current unemployment law, vacation time is treated the same as wages, but termination and severance pay is not.

Prior to the amendments, the bill was nearly the same as legislation vetoed by the Governor last year. The bill was given final passage in the Senate with a vote of 21-8. It now heads back to the Missouri House which has to accept the changes made to the bill and pass it, or the bill will be sent to a conference committee of Senators and House members to work out a final bill.