Wisconsin Republicans push stricter unemployment benefits

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin are looking to create stricter rules for how long people can receive unemployment benefits and what they have to do to get them.

The package of unemployment bills up for public committee hearings on Wednesday was introduced after more than three-quarters of voters in the statewide April election supported a non-binding ballot question asking whether people should be required to look for work to receive government assistance.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers vetoed similar legislation in his last term, and it’s likely he will do the same this time around if the Republican-controlled Legislature passes the proposals.

One of the bills Republicans revived would tie the number of weeks someone is eligible for unemployment benefits to the statewide unemployment rate. Under the measure, people would only receive the current standard of 26 weeks of benefits if unemployment rates rise above 9%. That hasn’t happened since the 2008 financial crisis.

With current unemployment rates under 3%, the bill would limit recipients to 14 weeks of benefits.

Other proposals would create stricter identity verification checks and work-search requirements for people on unemployment. Wisconsin law already requires people to perform at least four work-search activities a week to receive unemployment benefits.