IMPACT

Florida Representative Kathleen Passidomo Introduces New Unemployment Legislation

02/14/2011 08:19 pm 20:19:12 | Updated May 25, 2011

As Florida's unemployment rate reaches 12 percent, new state legislation has been proposed to overhaul the state's unemployment system.

Along with decreasing the number of weeks they can receive financial aid, the bill would require the jobless to volunteer in exchange for their weekly unemployment check, reports WCTV.

Proposed by Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, the bill states that the unemployed would need to report a minimum of four hours per week. She told ABC Action News that volunteering would help them connect to employers and create relationships.

"You never know. It could help you get a job. You're not going to get contacts staying home."

Others are not convinced. George Wentworth of the National Employment Law Project told Fox News that it may not be in line with existing law.

"If you earned wages sufficient enough to qualify for a weekly benefit after losing your job through no fault of your own, the system is set up so you don't have to go through additional requirements that are unrelated to the fact of your unemployment."

The bill would also give more requirements for those filing for unemployment, including a skills assessment test, along with decreasing the number of weeks allotted for maximum financial aid from 26 to 20. Florida's unemployment checks are capped at $275 per week, making it one of the least generous states in the nation.

Some of Florida's unemployed residents are close to needing the services they would be required to volunteer. The Sun-Sentinel reported on Mark Wampole, a laid-off welder, who says he's on the brink of homelessness.

"Without it, I'd starve. I'd have to live under a bridge and hope I could find somebody to feed me. It's that serious... I'm working as hard as I can. It's just that nobody's hiring.""

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