OLR Bill Analysis

sHB 5369 (as amended by House "A")*

AN ACT CONCERNING AN ADJUSTMENT TO THE METHOD FOR DETERMINING THE MAXIMUM WEEKLY UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFIT RATE.

SUMMARY:

This bill changes how the maximum unemployment benefit cap is determined. Current law caps a claimant's unemployment benefits at 60% of the average wage paid to the state's production (i.e., manufacturing) workers, as determined under the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' standards for determining average production wages. The bill instead requires the cap to be 50% of the average wage of all workers in the state, as calculated under the Connecticut Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages or another method prescribed by the labor commissioner that accurately reflects the average wage of workers in the state.

Under current law, the average wage is determined for each year ending June 30. The bill instead requires it to be determined for each year ending March 31. By law, unchanged by the bill, the commissioner must annually determine a new cap by August 15. It becomes effective on the first Sunday of October but cannot increase more than $18 each year.

The bill also increases the financial threshold used to determine whether someone's unemployment compensation fraud is a misdemeanor or a felony. Under current law, someone who knowingly makes a false statement or fails to disclose a material fact to obtain or maintain unemployment benefits is guilty of a (1) class A misdemeanor if the fraud amounts to $500 or less or (2) class D felony if the amount is more than $500. The bill increases this threshold to $1,300. By law, (1) class A misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year in prison, up to a $2,000 fine, or both and (2) class D felonies are punishable by up to five years in prison, up to a $5,000 fine, or both.

*House Amendment “A” adds the provision regarding unemployment compensation fraud penalties.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2016, except the provision on unemployment compensation penalties is effective October 1, 2016.

BACKGROUND

Related Bill

sHB 5367 (File 230), reported favorably by the Labor and Public Employees Committee, freezes the maximum benefit cap at its current value ($598) for anyone who files for unemployment through 2018.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Labor and Public Employees Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

13

Nay

0

(03/10/2016)