Eskamani and Powell file legislation to overhaul Florida's broken unemployment system

Rep. Anna V. Eskamani - Phtoo courtesy Anna Eskamani
Phtoo courtesy Anna Eskamani
Rep. Anna V. Eskamani
State Rep. Anna V. Eskamani, D-Orlando, and State Sen. Bobby Powell, D-West Palm Beach, filed legislation this week that would give a much-needed overhaul to Florida's broken unemployment system.

While their Republican counterparts tilt at windmills with meaningless anti-protest legislation, the two bills (HB207 and SB592) introduced by Eskamani and Powell would make for substantive change to an unemployment system that was a bad and cruel joke on Floridians in need for most of 2020 — and beyond.

Among the provisions in Eskamani's bill are an increase in Florida's stingy weekly benefit allotments up to a $500 maximum from the current $275, an increase in the number of weeks eligible to 26 from 12, and a suspension of the weekly work search requirements. Oversight of DEO would be provided by a newly created ombudsman position.

Whether these bills will pass in the Republican-controlled Florida House and Senate is another matter, but Eskamani and Powell see this as an ethical imperative that transcends party politics.

"The unemployment system doesn't care if you are a Democrat, or a Republican or independent," said Eskamani during a virtual press conference breaking down this new legislation. "An eviction notice doesn't care if you are a Democrat or a Republican or independent. These economic issues impact you no matter who you are."

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