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Revised unemployment comp bill moving through the house

Written on Jul 31, 2020

OSCPA staff report

As expected, Ohio lawmakers this week are fast tracking a substitute bill addressing unemployment compensation reforms.

The House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee today is hearing its third day of testimony on House Bill 620.

The State of Ohio on Aug. 30 paid off its unemployment compensation debt to the federal government. But Ohio's unemployment system remains structurally out of balance, and even a small recession could make it insolvent immediately. Without a legislative remedy, that could again trigger significant penalties on Ohio employers.

HB 620 would raise the taxable wage base from $9,000 to $11,000 starting in 2018, while changing the maximum duration for benefits of 26 weeks to a sliding amount between 26 and 20 weeks, based on the state unemployment rate. It also freezes the maximum weekly benefit amount until the fund is solvent.

The bill sets a "minimum safe level" for the unemployment fund at 0.75 of the average high cost multiple, which is a measure based on the three highest cost years of the past 20 years.

Earlier this month, attorney Tony Fiore told that committee on behalf of OSCPA and the Society for Human Resource Management that the system needs “to be solvent, affordable, predictable, and provide a seamless pathway for claimants to quickly return to the workforce.”

OSCPA’s Ohio Tax Reform Task Force white paper recommended the legislature take steps to ensure the system’s solvency. House leaders said solvency is the top priority of the bill, and they are now discussing details with the Senate and the Kasich administration.