Proposed changes could make it harder to get jobless benefits - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Proposed changes could make it harder to get unemployment benefits

MADISON (WKOW) -- The state board that Governor Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) put in charge of identifying overburdensome regulations, wants to set the bar higher for unemployed workers.

The Small Business Regulatory Review Board issued a report Tuesday which identifies 300 regulatory rule changes, several of which relate to the unemployment insurance compensation process.

Bonnie Ensor of Janesville lost her job a few weeks ago, but has already applied for more than twenty open positions at the Rock County Job Center.

"They give you all the opportunities you need to find a job that you may or may not be qualified for," said Ensor, who is receiving unemployment insurance compensation. 

Ensor says she has no problem with a proposal that would require her to prove she was applying for four jobs a week.

Currently, people receiving unemployment insurance compensation have to apply for two jobs a week, but they only have to provide proof if the state requests it.  The Regulatory Review Board wants that verifcation to be mandatory.

Denise Anderson, who received UI benefits for three years, thinks that's an unnecessary step.

"Well, I think its really hard to find work as it is without having to worry about your unemployment, not getting it because you're not applying for enough jobs," said Anderson, whose benefits expired in April 2012. 

The Board also wants to put limitations on so-called quit exceptions.  In Wisconsin, there are 18 acceptable reasons to quit a job and still receive UI benefits.  Minnesota only has nine.

Another proposal would limit the reasons a beneficiary can refuse a job.

"The recession means that there are more people who are unemployed.  Businesses had to lay off people because demand has decreased.  That showed up in the report as twice as signifcant as issues with unemployment benefits," said Mitch*, a UW Law Professor and UI expert. 

He says some streamlining of UI process is needed, but questions how much weight should be placed on the report's findings.

"Just under 600 people responded and.....76 business owners had some complaints, anecdotal complaints," said Mitch.  "So that's a really tiny segment.  76 people complained, 200,000 citizens of Wisconsin are getting unemployment benefits.  And they didn't even survey any of them."

Some of those proposals, such as the one requiring four job applications per week instead of two, could happen without legislative approval. But others would require a change to current state law.

*Mitch is the full legal name of that UW Law Professor.

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