Unemployment bill easily clears Illinois House

By Mark Fitton
Illinois News Network

SPRINGFIELD — Without rancor, the Illinois House on Wednesday passed legislation to tune up the state’s unemployment insurance program.

The legislation sponsored by Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Belleville, eliminates the “Social Security offset” in that it allows recently separated workers eligible for Social Security to receive full unemployment insurance benefits.

Currently, 50 percent of the amount an older worker can receive for Social Security is subtracted from the potential unemployment insurance benefit.

Changes in the bill are also projected to eliminate a $470 million cost increase for employers and $300 million benefit reduction for displaced workers.

House Bill 1285 also clarifies the definitions of employee misconduct allowing for denial of benefits. Such behavior would now specifically include behavior such as providing false information on an application and drinking or using illicit drugs.

The legislation was worked out in negotiations among business and labor leaders, Democrat and Republican legislators and Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration.

Representatives from both sides of the aisle praised the bill and thanked the negotiators, including Hoffman and Senate sponsor Terry Link, D-Waukegan, for their work.

“I think we ought to use it as an example that if there’s a willingness on the part of the Legislature and the second floor (the governor’s office) to get to ‘yes,’ to come to an agreement, here’s a case where we can do it,” said Rep. David Harris, R-Arlington Heights.

By a vote of 110 to zero with eight members not voting, the House concurred in a Senate amendment to the bill, sending it on to the governor.

Rauner, R-Winnetka, supports the bill. On Wednesday, he called it “an important step in improving the competitiveness of our economy.”

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