Unemployment Insurance Reform Passes Michigan Legislature, Awaits Governor's Signature
Legislation that addresses the Michigan's unemployment insurance (UI) system, Senate Bills 483, 484 and 806, is headed to Gov. Rick Snyder's desk for his signature following final approval of the legislation by the Michigan Legislature earlier this week.

The state's Unemployment Insurance (UI) system will undergo a number of changes designed to stabilize a fund that's $3.13 billion defecit to the federal government.

SB 0806, sponsored by Sen. Jack Brandenburg (R-Harrison Twp.), is an attempt to get the Michigan UI fund back on solid ground.  However, the legislation is not without controversy as both the Michigan League of Human Services and the Labor Unions have stood up in opposition because it adds further restrictions to Michigan's already frugal UI offering, according to them.

SB 0806 is part of a three-bill package that includes SB 0483 and SB 0484.  The bills allow the state to bond for $3.5 billion to pay back the $3.1 billion Michigan's UI fund owes the federal government. The leftover money will be used as a fund balance the state can presumably build on in the hopes of getting a balance of $2.5 billion.

The legislation makes several changes for businesses, including increasing the wage base upon which employers pay taxes, and shortening their experience window from five to three years, permitting companies to get rid of bad jobless claim years more quickly. Small businesses also can spread their unemployment tax payments out over the year.

For jobless workers, the legislation requires that after 10 weeks of state assistance they take a job if it pays at least their area's prevailing wage, or is 120 percent more than their assistance check, even if it's outside of their field of training. They would also have to conduct a "systematic and sustained search for work," with various reports on their progress due to the state.

Workers who fail to keep their training up to date, steal from the business, or are let go after missing three consecutive days of work without informing their boss, would be ineligible for jobless benefits under the bill.

Without the changes, it's projected that Michigan would not emerge out of the red until 2018 or 2019, assuming a modest .5 percent job growth.

The following link will provide you additional information on the bill: http://legislature.mi.gov/doc.aspx?2011-SB-0806