The House Commerce and Labor Committee is meeting early this morning to consider legislation to expedite and expand unemployment benefits for employees affected by the abrupt changes in the economy. HB 2642 was introduced earlier this session to aid employees of Spirit aircraft manufacturing in Wichita. The legislation will be expanded to assist employees of the restaurant and hospitality industry as communities across the country are requiring those businesses to either close entirely or limit to offering takeout food. The idea is to waive the two-week waiting period for unemployment benefits and to extend eligibility to 26 weeks or more (currently 16 weeks).
The Kansas Chamber of Commerce urged the committee to be cautious and sunset the new provisions next spring in an attempt to avoid draining the unemployment fund. They called attention to the years required to rebuild the trust fund after the last recession.