Louisiana House snubs back-to-work bonus, unemployment hike

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — House lawmakers Thursday rejected a modest increase in Louisiana’s jobless benefits and a return-to-work incentive payment aimed at driving people to exit unemployment and go back to work.

Only 44 legislators voted for the bill by Rep. Rodney Lyons, while 54 House members voted against it.

Lyons, a Democrat from Harvey, initially proposed to raise the state’s maximum weekly unemployment benefits — which are currently set at $247 — by $28. That was a deal struck by some business and labor associations to raise benefits that are the second-lowest in the nation.

But Republicans on the House labor committee also added a provision by GOP Rep. Mike Echols into the bill that would have given Louisiana residents receiving unemployment a lump sum payment of $500 or $1,000 to go back to work, if they gave up their right to claim jobless benefits for six months.

Some opponents objected to raising unemployment benefits. Others objected to giving a bonus payment to jobless people who are required to search for work in order to receive unemployment.

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