Wisconsin Senate OKs bills targeting unemployment benefits

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin residents looking for work would face stricter requirements to qualify for unemployment benefits under a package of Republican-authored bills that received final approval in the Legislature on Wednesday.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers vetoed nearly identical legislation in his first term, and it’s likely he will do the same this time around for the five measures the Republican-controlled Senate passed along party lines.

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has said he hopes Evers changes his mind after voters in April approved a non-binding ballot question that said able-bodied adults should have to look for work to receive government assistance.

Unemployment recipients in Wisconsin already must perform four work-search activities each week. Under one of the bills approved on Wednesday, employers would be able to report recipients who decline or don’t show up to an interview. People who have been reported multiple times and don’t have good reasons for declining or missing interviews could have their benefits rescinded.

Another bill would enact stricter identity verification checks for unemployment benefits.

Major conservative business groups, including the state chamber of commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business and the Opportunity Solutions Project have endorsed many of the bills, while local unions and Democrats oppose them.