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Republican House lawmakers propose Louisiana residents receiving unemployment up to $1,000 to go back to work

Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 10:37 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Republican House lawmakers have started advancing a proposal to offer Louisiana residents receiving unemployment up to $1,000 to go back to work.

But workers would have to give up their right to claim jobless benefits for six months.

GOP lawmakers on the House labor committee added the language from Rep. Mike Echols into a separate measure that sought to modestly increase the maximum weekly unemployment benefit in Louisiana.

“We were just looking for one more tool that might get someone a little more incentive to go out and apply for a job today instead of waiting a couple of extra weeks,” said Echols. “We know businesses and jobs are out there by the hundreds and thousands. We just have to get folks back to work as quickly as possible.”

There are some who agree.

“I think it’s fair. I think it’s something new and we have to be willing to try new things,” said resident Nadair Banks.

There are also those who don’t see a point in the potential incentive.

“I think paying them to come back to work... I’m not sure you should give them more money when you should discontinue what you’re giving them,” said Dick Wilding.

The vote to add the incentive provision was 6-5. Republicans supported the measure and Democrats opposed it.

Republicans say federal unemployment benefits are discouraging people from seeking work. Democrats object to requiring people to give up unemployment rights.

Echols said it’s completely optional, and that this money is only an added plus and something different from what other states are trying.

“If you look at other states, 11 or 12 other states cut off the federal benefit to try to motivate people. That’s a negative incentive,” said Echols.

The payments would be funded by federal coronavirus relief aid.

Echols said unless they figure something out, the economy will continue to suffer.

“We’re already losing jobs right now to Texas, we’re losing jobs even to Mississippi, and of course Florida and the states that are aggressive around business,” said Echols. “It’s creating a market imbalance, and when you have these types of imbalances, it can destroy jobs.”

The bill is still awaiting action from the House.

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