Special session for unemployment benefits?by Dara Kam | April 29th, 2010
Lawmakers have agreed to extend unemployment benefits for Floridians by 14 weeks but those benefits will run out on June 1 unless they take action before the end of the day tomorrow.
House GOP lawmakers signed off on approximately $128 million in extra unemployment benefits for about 100,000 out-of-work Floridians until June 1.
Delray Beach Democrat Kevin Rader tried but failed to amend the bill, now on its way to Gov. Charlie Crist, to allow an automatic extension of the benefits if Congress passes another extension which it has done at least four times recently.
“By stating a specific date for participation in statute the Florida Legislature is jeopardizing our ability to participate in future extensions of unemployment benefits should they be granted by Congress when the Legislature is not in Session,” Rader said.
The Senate sponsor of the unemployment measure (SB 1736) said it will take a special session to deal with the issue because GOP House leaders balked at putting the prospective extension into law.
“Unless we have a special session, we will not be able to extend the benefits beyond the June date,” said Sen. Rudy Garcia, R-Hialeah.
Garcia said the House, which originally did not even have an unemployment extension bill, was concerned that the state constitution prohibits the legislature from passing prospective laws.
“Constitutionally, we could not find the language that would have allowed us to receive on federal action that the federal government has not done…We had to negotiate and we had to use pressure to ask them to have a bill if not to take our bill. We were also trying to put this in a conforming bill and looking for language that would make it prospective. But no one wanted to deal with that kind of language,” Garcia said.