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House Lawmakers Pass Unemployment Overhaul

North Carolina House lawmakers have tentatively passed a bill largely along party lines that would lower benefits for unemployed workers. The measure would reduce the maximum weekly allowed benefit from $500 to $350. It would also reduce the maximum amount of time a laid-off worker could receive benefits from 26 weeks to between 12 and 20 weeks. Democratic Representative Paul Luebke said this is the wrong bill to be passing at a time when unemployment in the state is high.

"This is a very unbalanced bill. People who are not included in the discussion of this bill are the unemployed. The unemployed people of this state had no advocates as this bill was crafted."

But the bill's sponsors say if passed, it would help the state pay off a nearly $2.6 billion debt owed to the federal government. North Carolina borrowed that money to help pay for a spike in unemployment claims brought on by the recession. Under the measure, business owners would see their unemployment insurance taxes rise until the debt would be paid off in 2015.

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