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Here are some of the other stories catching our attention.

U.S. Senate Bill Singles Out N.C. Unemployed

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Later today, the US Senate is expected to vote on extending long term unemployment benefits.  If passed, the bill will move to the House of Representatives. And if it becomes law, it would affect North Carolina more than any other state. 

Federal long term unemployment benefits, payments to those out of work from 27 weeks or more, expired on the first of this year. The $10 billion Senate bill would retroactively reinstate those benefits and extend them until June 1st. This would be for all 50 states.

But there’s a clause in the bill that really only affects North Carolina. 

The state fell out of federal compliance last year. The state’s unemployment insurance system was paying out far more than it was taking in and had to borrow nearly $3 billion from the federal government to stay afloat. So lawmakers in Raleigh slashed benefits and raised some taxes in order to pay back to debt. As part of these reforms the state opted out of extended unemployment payments.

The move affected an estimated 170,000 people statewide.

North Carolina remains the only state to have turned down the extended benefits. 

The new Senate bill contains a clause added by Kay Hagan which would, effectively, grandfather in North Carolina’s reforms, making it eligible for such federal money again.

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