Note: As of October 18th, however, John Mielke is still listed as a council member.
At this meeting, the Department provided the following information to council members:
- A letter from Secretary-designee Pechacek asking the Advisory Council to approve another program integrity assessment (estimated to be $3.3 million). Left out of this letter is that the program integrity fund, as of August 2021 (see line 228), already has $19,444,000. Regardless, the council approved of this additional assessment.
- Presented SB545, a proposed bill to legalize marijuana. Under this bill, employees who test positive for marijuana use and who are then discharged would not be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.
- Presented SB547, a proposed bill to allow people who refuse vaccinations to qualify for unemployment benefits (discussed here).
- Introduced a future emergency regulation (now available as EmR2125) that extends the time for recharging of unemployment benefits to employers’ accounts or the balancing account until 30 June 2022 and continues to waive any interest charges for reimbursable employers. After caucus, Council members voiced their support for this new emergency regulation. In general, charging relief for pandemic-related job losses needs to be requested because only a few kinds of job losses are presumed to be pandemic-related. But, the deadline for those requests expired as of 14 May 2021. Only for new, back-dated pandemic-related claims are charging relief requests still viable,
- A draft of the proposed unemployment bill, based on what council members previously agreed on at their August 2021 meeting.
- An updated research response addressing management concerns raised at the August Council meeting regarding the labor reps’ proposed increase in the weekly benefit amount.
The Financial Report for this month indicates that benefit payments are now around half of what they were a year ago, that the unemployment taxes employers pay continue to decline because of fewer claims being paid, and that the unemployment trust fund balance was nearly $950 million.
At the end of the meeting, Council members informed the Department that the remaining Department proposals would NOT be enacted and that agreement on the labor and management proposals was not likely as well.