Lawmakers approve bill to lock in unemployment insurance tax rate

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky lawmakers gave final passage Monday to a business-backed bill that would provide relief to employers on their unemployment insurance premiums.

The House voted 88-5 to send House Bill 144 to Governor Andy Beshear.

Another key part of the bill would spend $242 million in federal pandemic aid to replenish the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund. Like other states, Kentucky has been overwhelmed by record waves of unemployment assistance claims caused by the coronavirus.

The measure would allow employers to continue using the unemployment insurance premium rate set for 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The suspended rate would save Kentucky businesses an average of about $70 per employee, lawmakers said.

Republican Rep. Russell Webber, the bill’s lead sponsor, said the locked-in rate would give businesses “some breathing room” while trying to deal with other challenges, including rising inflation and issues. persistent in the supply chain.

Some lawmakers have criticized relieving employers while another bill would revamp unemployment benefit rules for laid-off Kentuckians.

The separate measure, which lawmakers sent to the governor last week, would increase job search requirements for people receiving unemployment benefits and tie the length of time recipients receive benefits to the unemployment rate. This provision could more than halve the number of weeks of benefits in times of low unemployment.

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