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Senate Finance Committee passes unemployment bill

The Maryland Senate Finance Committee has endorsed a bill to reform the state’s unemployment insurance system.

The committee voted Tuesday to approve the measure for consideration by the full Senate.

After weeks of negotiations, labor and business organizations now both support an agreement that would allow businesses to spread out payments to Maryland’s unemployment compensation fund and lower the interest rates for late payments in 2010 and 2011. The measure would decrease benefits for some workers, but increase benefits for others including people seeking job training while unemployed.

Gov. Martin O’Malley wants to alter Maryland’s unemployment insurance laws to get about $127 million in federal stimulus money, but business groups were initially wary of long-term costs.

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