DeLeo, State Lawmakers Pass Legislation to Extend Unemployment Benefits

Special to the Journal

 House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo along with his colleagues in the Massachusetts Legislature on Monday, Oct. 26 passed An Act relative to additional unemployment benefits for the neediest recipients currently excluded from the Lost Wages Assistance program, which would enhance unemployment benefits for 17,000 people in Massachusetts by as much as $1,800 each.

“The Senate is laser focused on assisting those most in need, especially as we continue to tackle the dueling challenges posed by the global pandemic and economic crisis,” stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “This legislation speaks to that commitment and will help assist residents in obtaining lost wages as a result of the ongoing public health emergency. I would like to thank Senators Pat Jehlen, Eric Lesser and Michael Rodrigues, as well as Speaker Robert DeLeo and his colleagues for working to quickly usher this bill to the governor’s desk.”

“The House has an ongoing and long-standing commitment to supporting workers, and these benefits will ease the economic burden of the pandemic on individuals and families across the Commonwealth,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “I thank Chairs Michlewitz and Hay and House Members for their diligence n this important issue, and appreciate the leadership of Senate President Spilka with the support from our colleagues in the Senate.

“The swift passage of this assistance reflects the Legislature’s commitment to supporting economic security for individuals and families across the Commonwealth,” said Senator Joe Boncore (D-Winthrop). “On our path towards recovery from both the public health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Legislature will continue to prioritize those most impacted in our communities.” 

“I am proud that through this public health and economic crisis our Commonwealth is facing, the Massachusetts Legislature has once again showed its commitment to assisting with mitigating the burden of the COVID pandemic on the residents of Massachusetts,” said Representative RoseLee Vincent (D-Revere).  “I thank Speaker DeLeo for helping to usher this through the House, and I am hopeful this will help many constituents in the communities of the Sixteenth Suffolk District, which are all Red Communities that have experienced high rates of the virus, as well as significantly high unemployment because of the pandemic.”

“This legislation will make the necessary changes to make sure people with less than $100 in weekly benefits receive that $1,800 in added income,” said Senator Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville). “Just last week I heard from a neighbor and constituent who was short $2 in his weekly benefit to receive the $1,800 in Lost Wages Assistance. The state investment in raising the minimum benefit will bring $31 million to Massachusetts residents for rent, for food and other expenses.”

“I want to thank the Speaker and his staff for their leadership in working diligently to pass this bill so quickly,” said Representative Stephan Hay (D-Fitchburg). “It was a pleasure to work with Senator Jehlen to fix this oversight and help marginalized people. We all know that in 2020 every dollar counts and it is critical that we do whatever is possible to help working families.” 

The legislation authorizes an increase to unemployment compensation for every recipient in Massachusetts not receiving at least $100 in weekly benefits. This enhancement would apply retroactively to approximately 17,000 recipients.

The Governor signed the legislation into law.

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