State Senate backs extending jobless benefits


BOSTON >> Unemployed workers in Massachusetts would have more time to attend job training programs before their unemployment insurance benefits expire, under a bill that cleared the state Senate on Tuesday.

Originally filed by Sen. Ken Donnelly, the bill (S 969) would extend the deadline -- from the fifteenth week of unemployment to the twentieth week -- for people participating in industrial or vocational training programs to file for an extension of unemployment benefits.

The bill (S 2405) that cleared the Senate was redrafted by the Ways and Means Committee, which added in a requirement that the Department of Unemployment Assistance provide claimants with information on eligibility for training-related benefits, in a claimant's primary language and with a notification that they must apply for such benefits no later than the 20th week of unemployment.

At a November hearing, the AFL-CIO, Greater Boston Legal Services, Jewish Vocational Services and the Chinese Progressive Association testified in support of the bill.

Anne Myerson, executive director of YMCA Greater Boston's education and training programs, described the legislation as a "very small change to help more people who are trying to help themselves."

The changes to unemployment insurance laws would take effect on Jan. 1, 2017 under the Senate bill.

The bill, which has 18 cosponsors, was approved by the Senate with no debate during a lightly attended session. A total of 39 lawmakers signed onto a House version of the bill (H 1714), which was filed by Rep. Ken Gordon.

The Senate bill will move to the House for its consideration.


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