Senate Supports Bill to Help Unemployed

CONCORD – The Senate voted today in favor of three bills to help the unemployed.

Senate Bill 170 would allow people who are laid off to collect unemployment benefits under some circumstances if they are trying to set up their own businesses. This is a practice that’s been successful in other states.

“New Hampshire’s entrepreneurial spirit should be supported with a safety net for those who wish to start their own business. Also, research shows that employment opportunities in a recession are driven by those who start their own businesses. These entrepreneurs could end up providing new jobs for others,” said Senator Maggie Hassan (D-Exeter), who sponsored the bill.

The legislation would be limited in who could qualify and would require those enrolled to demonstrate to the Department of Employment Security ongoing progress in setting up and running a business. Senate Bill 170 now heads to the House.

Senate Bill 144, also sponsored by Hassan, would allow certain people who are forced to leave work because of a medical issue or physical disability to collect unemployment benefits — but it would protect employers from being charged for those benefits. The bill heads now to the Senate Finance Committee for review.

“Senate Bill 144 reflects current practice by the Department of Employment Security but adds some important clarity to our laws,” Hassan said.

Senate Bill 89, sponsored by Senator Betsi DeVries (D-Manchester), prevents qualified recipients of unemployment benefits from being forced to pay back certain overpayments when the overpayments are the result of a mistake by the Department of Employment Security.

“Those who file and receive benefits in good faith should not have to pay back money they’ve likely spent on necessities because of an error that’s not of their own making,” DeVries said.

Senate Bill 89 heads now to the Senate Finance Committee for review.

All three bills have the support of the state Department of Employment Security and the Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council, which includes business owners.