LANSING — House Democrats announced legislation at a press conference today to strengthen unemployment protections and expand benefits, allowing workers to focus on finding a new job without worrying about how they’re going to pay bills or put food on the table. The package focuses on improving the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) system so it can handle a forecasted recession, ensuring accountability for employers not paying their UIA tax, and making whole those falsely accused of fraud.
“When Michiganders are laid off or lose their job through no fault of their own, UIA helps them face those challenges,” said state Rep. Terry Sabo (D-Muskegon). “Yet right now, compared to other Midwestern states we fall way behind. When you combine that with the number of economists who are warning of the potential for another national recession, it’s clear that we need to fix our outdated unemployment system immediately. Losing your job may be a temporary setback, but it shouldn’t derail your life.”
“As a small business owner, I have witnessed firsthand the impact economic uncertainty can have on hardworking Michiganders,” said Donna Lasinski (D-Scio Township). “Restoring these benefits allows workers to focus on finding a new job without worrying about how they’re going to pay bills and put food on the table. It keeps people actively looking for work, and ultimately, keeps our economy moving forward.”
Among the provisions in the 10-bill package is legislation to restore the maximum weekly benefit rate indexing formula to 58 percent of the state average weekly wage, while also returning the eligibility period from 20 to the standard 26 weeks. The plan would also adjust the dependent amount to reflect the realities of modern-day families. More than half of the package’s legislation focuses on making whole the thousands impacted by the false fraud accusations leveled by the Unemployment Insurance Agency’s faulty MiDAS computer system.
“The point of the unemployment system is to catch you when you fall, but the unfortunate reality is that it doesn’t always provide the support it should,” said Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown Township). “Our legislation would ensure that our state’s hardworking men and women have the support they need to get back on their feet and back to work, protecting their families and their pocketbooks on the way there.”