After returning to the statehouse for that expressed purpose, state lawmakers have given final approval to a bill that will give unemployed South Carolinians extended federal benefits.
The House passed the legislation Tuesday. In introducing the bill Wednesday, Pickens County Senator Larry Martin said that the move will bring $80 million over time to workers and their families who need the help. He said the change actually involves changing one word in the way the original law was written. Mississippi is the only state which has not changed laws to take advantage of extended federal benefits.
Martin said the change will allow the total unemployment rate to be considered to determine when unemployment benefits are provided to workers.
Martin said there will be an economic impact on state and local government. He pointed out to his colleagues in the Senate that local governments do not pay the payroll taxes that businesses pay, since they’re non-reimbursable employers. But Martin said that local governments will always have to pay after any unemployment claims are made.
“So any claims that would be paid to the employees of local governments under the extension would be paid out of their reimbursement back to the Employment Security Commission,” said Martin. “I didn’t want you to leave here without knowing that that’s the consequence on local governments.”
He added that school districts will be affected more than local county or municipal governments.
The two-day special session will cost taxpayers $115,000, which covers the mileage and meals for lawmakers, even though they will not be paid any additional salary for their time at the statehouse.
Senator Martin introduced the original legislation to correct the problem last spring. After that, House Republicans connected it a bill to overhaul the Employment Security Commission and failed to pass it. As a result the General Assembly was called back in for a special session. Martin said he is glad the special session didn’t turn into a blame game.