Legislation to modernize Kentucky’s unemployment system passes House committee

With employment levels among the lowest in the country and small businesses struggling to find workers, members of the business community testified before the Chamber of Economic Development and Labor Investment. on the need to reform the Commonwealth Unemployment Insurance system on Thursday.

The committee heard testimony from members of the business and education community, including Kentucky Chamber Senior Vice President Kate Shanks, Kentucky Chamber Senior Policy Analyst Dr. Charles Aull, and the president of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, Dr. Paul Czarapata.

House Bill 4, sponsored by Rep. Russell Webber, reforms Kentucky’s unemployment insurance system while supporting re-employment, job training, and economic growth.

Kentucky has seen record economic investment and the need to implement solutions to Kentucky’s labor shortage has become even more urgent, Shanks said. “The reasons for Kentucky’s labor shortage are many, and the solutions must be multifaceted,” she said, referring to the Kentucky Chamber’s Labor Crisis Report. Foundation released last year.

With Kentucky experiencing a labor shortage, Shanks said reforms to Kentucky’s outdated unemployment system are a key step in addressing Kentucky’s crisis. House Bill 4 aims to address the challenges of the workforce report, she said.

Statistics show Kentucky on average has one of the longest unemployment durations in the nation, and to help fill the more than 100,000 open jobs across the Commonwealth, the legislation would adjust the maximum number of weeks for benefits. of unemployment from 26 to 24 weeks, depending on the current unemployment rate. Dr. Aull noted that House Bill 4 would not reduce the amount of benefits an individual receives.

House Bill 4 would also allow the unemployment insurance system to adjust the duration of benefits during periods of economic growth and economic downturn.

“We cannot just focus on job creation. We need to focus on the workers to fill the jobs,” Shanks said.

House Bill 4 aims to address Kentucky’s skills gap by providing five weeks of additional unemployment benefits to those enrolled in a certification or higher education program.

During his testimony, Dr. Czarapata said higher education is key to success and that this legislation is a positive step toward upskilling Kentuckians as more and more jobs across the country require some form of higher education.

The legislation also increases the number of work searches required per week to help Kentuckians get back to work quickly and authorizes a work-sharing program.

The bill passed favorably out of committee with a vote of 16 votes in favor, 5 votes against and 1 passing vote. The bill now heads to the full House of Representatives for a vote.

Comments are closed.