DES MOINES, IOWA — On Wednesday both the House and Senate at the Iowa Statehouse held debate on two unemployment bills; and both contained similar language at the beginning of the day.
Both bills would lower the time period for those seeking unemployment benefits from 26 to 16 weeks, among other things. During the debate of the House bill, House Republicans took out language that would require a one-week waiting period for those filing for unemployment. That would mean that those filing would have to wait for that time period before becoming eligible for benefits.
“We also know that our skilled workforce in this state count on that one week to help fund their training,” said State Representative Mike Bousslet, (R) from Ankeny. “And so listening to labor and knowing the importance of skilled workers and skilled training for our workers, I am proposing an amendment to my amendment to eliminate that one week waiting period.”
After a couple of hours of debate, the House passed that bill to the Senate. When the Senate came back into session on Wednesday evening, they adopted the newly amended House bill, HF 2355. But, before voting on it Senate Republicans added back the one-week waiting period into the language in the bill. They passed that by a vote of 30 to 20 and sent it back to the House.
A couple of Republicans voted against this bill in the Senate, as they wanted to eliminate the one-week waiting period as the House had. One Senate Republican spoke out about it.
“I now have to stand in solidarity with the House and asking that we consider reinstating that first week of benefits for individuals,” said State Senator Zach Nunn, (R) from Bondurant.
Both House and Senate Democrats disagreed with lowering the number of weeks that one is able to be on unemployment. Republicans framed it as a way to get Iowans back to work quicker. Democrats believe there are better ways to do that.
“I have looked into the eyes of people who are unemployed, I have talked with them. Do you know what they are not saying, ‘you know what I want to do I want to sit back and collect my check, forget the government,'” said State Representative Jennifer Konfrst, (D) from Windsor Heights. “They are trying their damnedest to find jobs.”
Rep. Konfrst did say that there are people who take advantage of the system, but it is not fair to punish everyone for a small group.
The bill now awaits a decision from House Republicans to agree with the one-week waiting period or not.