Friday, June 12, 2009

Governor Signs Unemployment Insurance Modernization

Opens Doors for $127.5 Million More in Federal Dollars

Governor Bill Ritter, Jr. signed into law bill SB 09-247, making modest changes in Colorado’s unemployment insurance law, and adopting new standards included in the Federal Stimulus Package that automatically qualify the state for more than $127.5 million in new federal incentive dollars. The new policy and the money are expected to bring much needed relief to the more than 2 million Coloradans currently unemployed.

“Especially in these challenging economic times, the unemployment safety net should be available to all Colorado workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own,” said Linda Meric, Executive Director of 9to5, National Association of Working Women, and one of the leading advocates of the bill. “UI is an important foreclosure and bankruptcy avoidance tool, a tool to avoid pushing more Colorado families onto the welfare rolls, and an economic stimulus strategy to help families and our local economies as workers try to maintain some basic economic security while temporarily out of work. SB-247 will provide access to the unemploy-ment safety net for women and very low-wage workers who have previously been left out.

Dawn Duvall, a Colorado mother of two who has been out of work since she was laid off on December 5th noted, “This bill will provide much needed extensions of benefits for people like me who are desperately seeking work and are finding the process much harder than it has ever been before.”

The bill makes the following changes in current law:

  1. Allows for an Alternative Base Period (ABP) to assess eligibility for UI benefits.

Explanation: When workers lose jobs through no fault of their own and file unemploy-ment claims, all states use a base period, or “look-back” period, to determine eligibility and benefits. The ABP provides an option for some unemployed Coloradans, mostly very low-wage workers and recent entrants to the workforce, to shift the look back period to include more of their recent earnings when determining UI eligibility.

  1. Allows UI for spouses of transferred/relocated employees.

Explanation: Under current law, Colorado workers who quit a job to follow a spouse in the military who is relocated are already eligible for unemployment benefits. SB 09-247 expands this provision to include any worker whose spouse is transferred or finds employment in a location where commuting is unreasonable, as required by the Federal guidelines to draw down the stimulus money.

  1. Provides Additional UI Benefits for Workers in Retraining for Green Jobs, High Demand Occupations or More Stable Employment.

Explanation: SB 09-247 temporarily allows unemployed workers who are involved in approved training programs to receive an additional 50% of their regular weekly benefit amount for a period of up to 20 weeks.

SB 09-247 also includes language required to draw down federal funds to provide UI benefit extensions for unemployed Colorado workers who have exhausted their initial award of benefits and have still been unable to find work. These federal funds are in addition to the $127.5 million in stimulus money.

Learn about the new unemployment law that 9to5 Colorado helped pass! Learn how to advocate for yourself and others – how to file a successful unemployment claim, how to win an unemployment appeal.

Handling An Unemployment Insurance Case

Monday, June 29, 2009

8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

At Mile High United Way

2505 18th Street, Denver

Free parking

For more information or to receive a registration form and agenda, please email

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