Business and Labor

Authorized worker unemployment benefits advance

Lawmakers gave first-round approval May 18 to a bill that would expand unemployment benefit eligibility.

Sen. Mike McDonnell
Sen. Mike McDonnell

Currently, Nebraska employers pay unemployment insurance taxes for all employees —including eligible work-authorized immigrants who are barred under state law from receiving unemployment benefits.

LB298, sponsored by Omaha Sen. Mike McDonnell, would allow work-authorized immigrants to collect unemployment benefits when otherwise qualified.

McDonnell said Nebraska is the only state that continues to deny unemployment benefits to these workers.

“[The bill] will address the gap in access to unemployment benefits currently being denied to otherwise qualified and legally present workers in the state of Nebraska,” he said.

Under a Business and Labor Committee amendment, adopted 33-0, an individual eligible for benefits under LB298 first would have their employment authorization verified through the federal Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program.

The bill advanced to select file on a 26-9 vote.

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