@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

Lawmakers unlikely to boost unemployment benefits for NC's jobless before they leave town

Posted June 25, 2020 2:03 p.m. EDT
Updated June 29, 2020 7:39 p.m. EDT

— A pitch to raise North Carolina's weekly cap on unemployment benefits, which was blocked by the House after it passed the state Senate unanimously in April, hasn't re-emerged during the General Assembly's return trip to Raleigh, and Thursday is likely the last day of this legislative session – at least for now.

The state maximum now is $350 a week. Senators wanted to boost that to $400, with that change and another meant to increase payments kicking in once the additional $600 in federal benefits that people on unemployment get now expires.

The proposed increase was part of a massive coronavirus response bill worked up during a short April legislative session, but the language got dropped in the House and wasn't part of the final bill.

Lawmakers returned to session in mid-May, but Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said Thursday that he hasn't had any conversations about the unemployment maximum with anyone in the General Assembly.

For now, it's probably too late, Berger said.

"I think the support is still there," said Berger, R-Rockingham. "I just don't know that we're going to be in a position to start that up, get that taken up today."

Lawmakers may return to session later this year. That's something leaders are negotiating, and the Senate is pushing to wrap things up.

Berger said that, if the General Assembly does come back into session, it will likely be to deal with legislation Gov. Roy Cooper vetoes or additional federal funding the legislature needs to appropriate to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

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