Las Vegas Sun

April 21, 2015

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Bill advances to increase jobless benefits

CARSON CITY – A bill to extend and increase benefits to thousands of unemployed Nevadans was unanimously passed by the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor today.

The measure, to be financed by federal stimulus funds, will extend unemployment benefits by seven weeks, increase the weekly checks by $25 and make an additional 4,100 unemployed Nevadans eligible for the program.

Some 800 workers are expiring their 72 weeks of unemployment compensation every week. That will grow to 3,800 people on April 11.

Cindy Jones, administrator of the state Employment Security Division, said the benefits are retroactive to Feb. 22, the date of federal approval.

She said the initial payment increase will be made quickly to those who receive payments through debit cards. It may be a few weeks for those who get their benefits by check.

The Assembly already approved Assembly Bill 469 and Assembly Concurrent Resolution 17 to change the law and to accept the payments. They now go to the floor of the Senate for a final vote, probably early next week.

Gov. Jim Gibbons has said he would accept the federal funds.

Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, told the Senate Committee that Nevada has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation at 10.1 percent both in the state and Clark County.

The state will receive $270 million. Of that, $77 million will be used to expand the program to make more workers eligible. That will last anywhere from four to 10 years.

The $77 million will help bolster the state’s unemployment trust fund which will be $750 million in the hole by the end of the year.

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