Thursday, July 21, 2011 at 6:43 PM by Tamarine Cornelius
On Tuesday, the State Senate passed legislation
authorizing Wisconsin to draw down an additional 13 weeks of federally-funded unemployment benefits for those who have exhausted their jobless benefits (currently capped at 73 weeks). In a surprising move, there was biparitsan support in the Senate for an amendment to that bill removing the new one-week delay for those initially obtaining benefits. The one-week delay had been added to the recently passed two-year budget bill. On a vote of 30-3, the Senate passed the extened benefits bill, as amended, and sent it to the Assembly for their consideration.
On Wednesday, the Assembly took up the amended unemployment benefits bill. Assembly Republicans moved to strip out the Senate amendment that would repeal the one-week waiting period, and the motion passed on a party line vote. The full Assembly subsequently passed the legislation without the deletion of the one week waiting period, contradicting the Senate action.
Because the Assembly version is now different than the Senate version, the bill cannot be sent to the Governor. It’s unclear whether there is support from Senate Republicans for the Assembly changes restoring the reinstatement of the one-week waiting period, or whether Democrats will back down and agree to concur with the Assembly bill.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has indicated
that the Senate would not meet today to act on the legislation. Senator Van Wanggaard, the lead Senate author of the extended benefits bill, is reportedly talking to colleagues
to try to bring quick action on the legislation. However, the timetable for taking up the bill again is uncertain. The legislature doesn’t have any regularly scheduled session days until September, but this week’s extraordinary session could potentially resume in the Senate on Tuesday, July 26.
In response to Democrats’ criticism that Republicans seemed to be willing to let the issue go unresolved (see, for example, Senator Cullen’s release), Senator Fitzgerald issued a press release this afternoon, in which he seeks to put the shoe on the other foot. His short release contends the Democrats are using the issue to score partisan points, and he seems to suggest that the Senate will take up the issue if/when Democrats commit to backing off on the matter of the waiting period by concurring with the Assembly position.
For more on unemployment and extended benefits in Wisconsin, see our recent one-page fact sheet here.