Bills of Note: Unemployment Insurance

In September, Sen. Stephen Nass (R-Whitewater) and Rep. Bob Kulp (R-Stratford) introduced a bill (SB 399/AB 516) that would make various changes to unemployment insurance law in Wisconsin, which is administered by the Department of Workforce Development (DWD). The bill is the agreed bill between labor and management members of the Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council under DWD. The changes include:

  • Revisions to enhance DWD’s ability to collect unemployment insurance related debt;
  • A modification that makes an unemployment insurance claimant who fails to comply with an information request by DWD ineligible for benefits the week DWD questions the eligibility, instead of the week the failure occurs;
  • A provision that a claimant is ineligible for benefits each week the claimant conceals payments such as holiday pay, vacation pay, termination pay, or sick pay;
  • Revisions to drug testing statutes that would give civil immunity to employers who submit information to DWD about individuals who fail drug tests, among other changes and clarifications regarding confidentiality of claimants’ information; and
  • Minor and technical changes to the unemployment insurance law.

The Senate Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform held a public hearing on the bill on Oct. 4. Registered in favor of the bill are Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, Wisconsin Independent Businesses and Wisconsin Pipe Trades Association.

The Senate committee voted unanimously on Oct. 12 to pass the bill. The Assembly Committee on Labor has yet to hold a hearing or vote on the bill.