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House narrowly passes unemployment fraud bill, after much debate

The House bogged down today in an extended debate over SB 1369, a Department of Labor bill that passed the Senate unanimously and that would save the state $5 million in unemployment fraud, before finally barely passing the bill on a 36-34 vote. (Note: This later changed - see posts above…) A motion from Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, to send the measure to the amending order failed, 21-49.

The bill would impose a $25 penalty on employers who, after getting a warning, still fail to comply with the law requiring reporting of new hires, allowing those workers to continue fraudulently collecting unemployment benefits. ” I think it's big government at its worst, penalizing the people providing the jobs,” declared Rep. Jim Patrick, R-Twin Falls. “Twenty-five dollars is totally unreasonable. Five dollars is probably too much.” Rep. Bill Killen, D-Boise, said, “By the simple expedient of complying with the law, your penalty will be zero.”

Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, told the House, “It discourages employers from hiring people. It will cause us to have fewer jobs in the state of Idaho. … I think this makes it more difficult to employ people.” Rep. Tom Trail, R-Moscow, the bill's House sponsor, said it cracks down on those who are “double dipping, you might say. It is worthwhile, with a $5 million fiscal note.”

The measure, which earlier passed the Senate 34-0, now heads to Gov. Butch Otter's desk.


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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