A Massachusetts bill that may have potentially lowered business’ unemployment insurance costs was rejected in the state’s Senate, after finding initial support in the House.

The original proposal was pitched by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, of Gloucester, according to the State House News Service. It was denied without a formal debate. The goal of the legislation was to freeze unemployment insurance rates paid by local businesses, a measure that has been repeatedly taken over the past several years.

One possible reason why this recent change was rejected may have to do with a larger bill looming on the horizon, the news source noted. Tarr stated that there is good faith in the Senate that this separate proposal will pass, although it is not a guarantee.

Prior to the challenges encountered in the state’s Senate, the bill centered around the idea that unemployment insurance benefits would be reduced from 30 weeks to 26 weeks, according to The Associated Press. In addition, eligible workers would also have to be employed for at least 20 weeks, instead of the current 15. The bill would have also made it possible for people to collect benefits if they left their second jobs prior to being terminated from their main ones. Also, whistleblower protections would have been instituted for employees who testify against their employers’ defrauding the system. However, now any measures will have to wait for future legislation before being enacted.

Businesses face tough circumstances
Before the bill made it through the Senate, legislators in Massachusetts were motivated to propose changes due to the tough circumstances faced by the state’s businesses.

At the core of the arguments is the goal to allow employers to pay lower rates, according to Sen. Dan Wolf, of Harwich. Depending on the current standing of these organizations, rates could have fluctuated from $153.30 per employee all the way up to $2,337.30 per employee

“The Unemployment Insurance system in Massachusetts is not sensitive enough to employers with very poor records or very good records, and it does not recognize the unique patterns of our seasonal workforce,” Senate President Therese Murray, of Plymouth, stated before the bill was rejected. “The current system serves as a considerable burden to our businesses, and it is time for a change. This bill will alleviate costs for employers, provide predictability to their budgets and foster an environment where jobs can grow and be created.”

These issues are similar to those faced in many states across the U.S., and Massachusetts businesses will now have to wait for additional proposals before seeing a change to unemployment insurance.


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