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Hagan: Add N.C. to federal jobless payments
Provision would return unemployment benefits
Published Monday, January 6, 2014 2:22 pm
by Herbert L. White

North Carolina lawmakers are pushing to reinstate North Carolina for emergency unemployment benefits.

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.)

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan held a press conference in Raleigh with N.C. Sen. Josh Stein and state Rep. Rosa Gill to rally support for Hagan’s provision to restore the state’s eligibility for federal emergency unemployment compensation as part of a larger bill to extend the federal program. Jobless North Carolina residents have been barred from federal benefits since July 1, 2013 when the Republican-dominated General Assembly cut the amount and length of compensation, making it the only state to terminate its participation. 

As a result, an estimated 170,000 unemployed workers can’t tap into the federal program. 

“North Carolinians struggling to get by while looking for work should receive the same benefits as citizens in other states, and I am fighting in the Senate to right this wrong for North Carolina,” Hagan said in a statement. 

Said Gill: “It was clear to every legislator in Raleigh that the Republicans' bill would violate federal law and make North Carolina the only state to lose access to federal emergency unemployment insurance benefits, but they acted anyway knowing full well the consequences of their actions.” 

Hagan added U.S. Labor Department officials have assured her that if the provision passes, people who lost emergency benefits last year and are still out of work will be compensated retroactively.

“The General Assembly knowingly and willingly violated federal law, and I refuse to let the people of our state suffer because of their reckless actions,” Hagan said. “I have worked closely with the Department of Labor to ensure that those North Carolinians who had their unemployment insurance terminated last year will be eligible to receive the emergency benefits they missed out on.”

Republican leaders in the General Assembly slammed Hagan while contending past policies and record jobless claims forced N.C. lawmakers to trim benefits in order to keep the state unemployment insurance program solvent.

“It’s about time Kay Hagan finally admitted she could have helped North Carolina’s long-term unemployed, but the fact is she’s a year late and $600 million worth of benefits short,” Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis said in a joint statement. “If she truly cared about these North Carolinians, she would have done what the General Assembly called on her to do more than a year ago. But she dropped the ball and is now desperately trying to spin her way out of the damage she created.”

Tillis, a Republican from Cornelius, is a candidate for Hagan’s Senate seat.

The bipartisan bill to extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program was introduced by Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.).

Hagan wrote Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus last month to urge them to include a provision reinstating North Carolina’s eligibility as part of any extension of the program beyond Dec. 31, 2013. 

“While we can’t undo all the damage caused by this reckless law,” Stein said, “I commend Senator Hagan for working to bring some relief to struggling families who continue looking for work in this rough economic climate.”



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