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Tennessee Works Act of 2012Posted Wednesday, November 16, 2011, at 10:01 AM
Some politicians want you to believe that the people of Tennessee would rather receive unemployment than find a job. While like every program there is certainly some abuse, the vast majority of these people just want to get back to work. I hear it every week from people who call my office. These are not lazy people; they're our friends and neighbors, people who want to work, but have just fallen on hard times. These are some of the people I want to target with new jobs legislation.
In the House of Representatives, I have introduced the Tennessee Works Act of 2012. This program, which I modeled after a Republican proposal in Georgia, will allow the state of Tennessee to use unemployment insurance to get people back in the workplace sooner. The idea is simple. The largest cause of unemployment in our area is traditional manufacturing jobs heading to Mexico or China. This leaves behind hundreds of unemployed workers who need to retrain for jobs in a new field. Currently, we have some programs in community colleges and tech centers, but for some we need a more hands-on solution. That's where the Tennessee Works Act comes into play.
This bill would allow laid-off workers collecting unemployment to be placed with an employer for a period of 8-12 weeks. During this time, the employer would be expected to train the laid-off worker with some sort of new skill required for that job. While this training was on-going, the worker would continue to receive unemployment benefits instead of being paid by the employer. At the end of the 8-12 week period, the employer has the opportunity to hire this new worker full-time without having had to pay for their training. This has a two fold benefit. One, it allows employers to train highly skilled workers at no cost to their company. Two, it allows the laid-off worker to obtain a new skill and a new job, rolling them off the unemployment rolls in a very short time span.
The idea is almost too simple to be believed, but it has worked in Georgia and New Jersey implemented a similar program last year. A PBS report found that in Georgia, six out of ten people found new employment within 90 days of being in the program. Unemployment insurance is meant to give people a hand-up, not a hand out. Passing the Tennessee Works Act of 2012 would allow us to make unemployment insurance work for the state. It would help our citizens get new training and back into the workforce, all while saving the tax payers money by getting people off the unemployment rolls sooner. It's a win for business, workers and the tax payer.
If you have any questions about the Tennessee Works Act or would like to hear more about another issue, please contact my legislative office and we'll get your questions answered as soon as possible. Have a great week!
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