Lawmakers look to tie jobless benefits to community service

Posted May 9, 2011


— A bill proposed by more than a dozen Senate Republicans essentially tells many of North Carolina's unemployed to find a job or prepare to volunteer.

Senate Bill 737 would require people receiving jobless benefits to perform at least five hours of community service a week if they are on unemployment for more than eight weeks. After a year of benefits, the service require increases to 10 hours per week.

People would be allowed to volunteer for nonprofit groups like the Salvation Army, a church or other organized religious entity or a governmental entity or public organization like a school, library or parks program.

Under the proposal, they would have to supply written verification of their service to the state Employment Security Commission every week or a written doctor's note confirming that they were too ill to work.

"I'm not sure the feds would approve of this," employment attorney Jack Nichols said Monday.

Nichols, a Democrat, said the state only operates the unemployment program for the federal government and doesn't fund it. He questions the legality of the state making changes to how a federal program is run.

"It's whether or not it's going to bring down the whole program because of this, that's my concern," he said.

Lawmakers look to tie jobless benefits to community service Lawmakers look to tie jobless benefits to community service

Senate Democrats haven't taken a stance on the bill, spokesman Jeff Giertz said, adding that the bill sponsors should be more concerned about the plight of the roughly 37,000 North Carolina residents who recently lost their unemployment benefits because the state failed to adjust a formula used to calculate extended eligibility.

Republican lawmakers said they believe the legislation would help the state, communities and the jobless.

Several people on unemployment agreed.

"I think it would put a lot back in the community," Mike Keaney said.

Norman Davis has been volunteering at an ESC office in Raleigh for the past year while he continues to look for work. He said he had to cut back his volunteer hours from 40 to 20 per week because he wasn't putting in enough time on his own job search.

"I never wanted to get out of the mode of getting up in the morning and going to work," Davis said.

He said he learned computer skills at the ESC, and he finds volunteering therapeutic.

"It helps me being around other people. (If you) stay home, you go stir crazy," he said.


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  • SARCASTICLES May 11, 2011

    I don't agree with this, it doesn't go far enough. We should also have them flogged at least twice a day, and ban them from spending any of their money on anything but stale bread....and require them to drink out of puddles, like the cattle they all are. Good 'ol "Compassionate Conservatism" at it's FINEST. ;)

  • mswayze May 10, 2011

    So, how do we get the bill passed that makes congress and senate jobs a voluntary unpaid position....

  • liftedhearts May 10, 2011

    Yeah, this is a GREAT way to encourage employers to hire again. Give them free labor. And hey! Since you guys are poised to lay off thousands of State workers, you'll get your pick.

  • mrduright May 10, 2011

    So let me get this straight, I WORK and PAY for unemployment INSURANCE now when I need it I have to work for free. Lets not stop here instead of giving kids a free education lets make the parents volunteer if they don't they have to pay. I think we are on to something here how about I drop by the fire department and wash the trucks too. The sad thing is that the same people who want to throw the unemployed under the bus are working for companies getting federal handouts but that ok.

  • RudeDawg May 10, 2011

    "Southern hospitality turned to envy and hatred when reconstruction began after the Civil War.

    Stop being so hate filled and envious" Jaydosse

    That's my friend is the beautiful thing about being southern that loses something in the text. If you would have heard it from my lips it would have been as sweet as iced tea and yet sarcastic at the same time. (didn't you see the ";)" at the end.) Makes no matter to me I have live up north and hated it! y'all claim that the south is eaten up with hatered and predjudice; now isn't that the pot calling the kettle black? :'(

  • simpleman01 May 10, 2011

    I would gladly perform those "services" maybe it might add to my resume. I have been attending school while looking for a job and this whole thing is stressful. What I have a problem with is when people think people who are on UE are lazy and sitting at home doing nothing. Being on UE is horrible and barely pays rent. Never in my life have I been on UE before or received any kind of public assistance but yet I am lazy and enjoying the" free ride" as some have put it. This lack of compassion is disgusting.

  • Groogrux May 10, 2011

    If I were unemployed, I would already be doing volunteer work. Its an opportunity to give back, possibly make some contacts AND you can put it on your resume.

  • wa4dou May 10, 2011

    This is an excellent idea, long overdue.

  • beachboater May 10, 2011

    " But I am not going to agree to taking money from my unemployment that would put gas in my car for job interviews to go volunteer for jobs that the republicans are going to cut in their budget. Nope unemployment isnt going to pay for that and that is about the extent of what is happening. I agree that unemployment is not welfare nor shoule we be insulted by others that are not having to go through this." 1 awesome Dad

    How far do you have to drive? There are non profits EVERYWHERE!!! Your local volunteer fire department, church clothes closet. You don't have to go far, not burn much gas. I've seen too many people cry about being unemployed and then miraculously find a job right about the time the benefits run out.

    I have a job, I'm self employed, and I work my rear off everyday. If I didn't have a job, McDonalds advertised they were hiring 50,000 people recently. Do I want to work at McDonalds? NO. Would I work at McDonalds to feed my family? Absolutely.

  • jaydosse May 10, 2011

    "uniformed comments" THIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN UNINFORMED COMMENTS on my last thread ( original was a typo )