JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri’s Republican-controlled House voted Tuesday to override the Democratic governor’s veto of legislation that would reduce the weeks of available jobless benefits to one of the shortest periods in the nation.
The 109-53 vote met the bare minimum needed to override vetoes; a similar two-thirds majority vote is needed in the Senate for the measure to receive final approval.
Missouri already is one of seven states that offer less than the standard 26 weeks of benefits.
The measure vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon would link the duration of jobless benefits to the state’s unemployment rate. The effect would be to cut the weeks of benefits available for laid-off workers from the current 20 to as few as 13, if the statewide unemployment rate remains below 6 percent.
The March unemployment rate for Missouri was 5.6 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. An unemployment rate of over 9 percent would be needed to receive 20 weeks of benefits.
Four other states already link their weeks of benefits to the unemployment rate – Kansas, Florida, North Carolina and Georgia.
Some Republican-controlled legislatures in recent years have pushed to cut the amount of benefits available, arguing that workers would have more incentive to find a new job more quickly.
Just two states have minimums lower than Missouri’s proposed 13 weeks.
Florida and North Carolina both allow benefits to drop to as few as 12 weeks if the state unemployment rate is below 5 percent. Florida’s benefits stand at 14 weeks and North Carolina’s at 15 weeks.
A similar bill passed last year also was vetoed, and lawmakers fell two votes short of an override in the House.