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Bill eases rule on jobless pay

Monday, March 17, 2008

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Noting that military officers really don't mean it when they ask for volunteers, a Colorado Springs lawmaker wants to change the law to allow spouses of members in the military to collect unemployment insurance when they are forced to relocate out of state.

Rep. Amy Stephens, R-Monument, said spouses - and their employers - are forced to pay for unemployment insurance, but can't collect it if they are transferred.

She said in the military, rejecting a transfer because of financial hardship isn't an option.

"They're forced to relocate. They're forced to realize that once you're in the military, they own you," Stephens said.

The measure, House Bill 1180, removes a limitation that a transfer must be during time of war or armed conflict and for medical-related purposes in order for an individual who relocates with an active-duty military spouse to be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits after paying into the system for a year or more.

The bill is expected to be heard in the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

Stephens said military bases are a major contributor to Colorado's economy and that the state shouldn't be keeping the money due to contributors.

According to legislative analysts, there were 29,932 active duty military in Colorado in 2006. Stephens said the state expects only 300 or so to claim the benefit each year.

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