Increase to weekly unemployment compensation benefit passes Senate committee

Legislation raises weekly benefit from $275 to $375
Posted at 5:27 PM, Mar 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-29 17:27:11-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Senate Committee on Commerce and Tourism, chaired by Senator Ed Hooper (R-Clearwater), today passed Senate Bill 1906, Reemployment Assistance, by Senator Jason Brodeur (R-Sanford). The legislation increases the maximum weekly unemployment benefit from $275 to $375.

“Over the last year, the COVID-19 Pandemic has shed the light on several problems with Florida’s unemployment system. I am pleased to see the Florida Senate take the steps necessary to address these significant challenges. Loss of a job is one of the most stressful things a family can go through and we need to have a meaningful benefit that Floridians can rely on,” said Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby).

“Representing a Central Florida district, my constituents were among the hardest hit when tourism came to a standstill last spring. This was an unprecedented situation that no one could have planned for, but it has brought to the forefront several important issues that should be discussed. We have a moral obligation to provide enough support to help meet some basic needs for Floridians who are out of work, through no fault of their own, and are looking for employment,” said Senator Brodeur.

The bill amends s. 443.111, F.S., to change the state’s reemployment assistance weekly benefit amount from a range of $32 to $275 per week to $100 to $375 per week.

Federal Unemployment Assistance Related to COVID-19

On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law, which expanded states’ abilities to provide unemployment benefits for workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and included assistance to workers who are not ordinarily eligible for unemployment benefits.

The CARES Act included Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) to help individuals whose employment was negatively impacted as a result of COVID-19. On December 27, 2020, the federal COVID-19 relief package was extended to provide additional federal unemployment benefits to eligible claimants, including an additional $300 of FPUC benefits for Floridians receiving state or federal benefits, an increase of 11 weeks under the PEUC for claimants who exhausted their state benefits, and a PUA extension.

On March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act further extended unemployment benefits. The PEUC and PUA benefit programs are extended to September 6, 2021, and eligible claimants can also receive an additional $300 under the FPUC. Florida also opted to provide benefits under the Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) program. MEUC provides an additional $100 to eligible claimants who receive benefits and earned at least $5,000 from self-employment in the tax year immediately prior to when the claimant filed their initial claim.

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