The Missouri House sent a bill to Gov. Jay Nixon’s desk Tuesday that ties unemployment benefits to the state’s unemployment rate.
Currently, law allows those out of a job to receive benefits for 20 weeks. House Bill 150 would create a tiered system. If the state unemployment rate is higher than 9 percent, people would receive benefits for 20 weeks. If the rate drops below 6 percent, they’d receive benefits for 13 weeks.
The bill passed with a vote of 88-68. Eighty-eight Republicans voted “yes,” while 43 Democrats, 24 Republicans and one Independent voted “no.” The 88 “yes” votes mean that the bill fell 21 votes shy of a veto-proof majority of 109 votes. That could be a problem down the road, since Nixon vetoed a similar bill last year, and the legislature's attempt to override came up two votes shy.
Senate Pro-Tem Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, has said he doesn’t think that will a be a problem this year, though, given the larger Republican majority in the House. But Tuesday’s vote could signal a similar outcome this year if Nixon does veto the bill.
The Senate approved its version of the bill last week but made a change that adds severance pay to determining eligibility for jobless benefits. The changes caused some House Republicans, such as Anne Zerr, R-St. Charles, and Galen Higdon, R-St. Joseph, to withdraw their support of the bill when it came back to the House on Tuesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Follow Ray Howze on Twitter: @RayHowze