On Wednesday the Alabama House of Representatives passed controversial legislation which would require that anyone receiving unemployment benefits contact at least three potential employers per week in order to continue to receive those benefits.

Senate Bill 224 (SB224) is sponsored by State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur). It was carried on the House floor by State Rep. Danny Garrett (R-Trussville).

Garrett explained that the legislation would require those receiving unemployment benefits to job search three times a week in order to continue to receive those benefits. Currently, Alabama just requires one attempt per week. This does not apply to those receiving job training.

Many House Democrats objected to the legislation.

State Rep. Barbara Boyd (D-Anniston) said that not everybody has gas money to drive to a career center.

She proposed an amendment to exempt anyone who “resides 45 miles from a career center.”

“You don’t have to leave your home to do a job search,” Garrett said. “You can make a phone call or apply online.”

Garrett introduced a motion to table the Boyd amendment.

That motion prevailed 65 to 27.

Berry Forte (D-Eufaula) said, “If you pass this, it is going to hurt a lot of young ladies. They got 2, 3, 4 children….some more and they are struggling.”

“The faster you can get back into the workforce the better,” Garrett said.

“Some of these folks ain’t got a way to get to the career center,” Forte said. “There ain’t no internet down there.”

“This is a bad piece of legislation,” Forte said. “We are famous for passing bad legislation to hurt somebody.”

State Rep. Ralph Howard (D-Greensboro) said, “The folks that elected me did not vote for me to come hurt them. I can’t vote for your bill.”

Garrett said that the unemployment rate is just 3.1%.

“This does not affect that many people,” Garrett said. “The real problem is the labor participation rate, which is low.”

The House of Representatives passed SB224 by a vote of 76 to 24.

The bill then went to the Senate where that body voted to concur with House changes. SB224 has now been sent to Gov. Kay Ivey for her consideration.

Thursday is day 29 of the 2022 Alabama Regular Legislative Session. Even though the regular session can last up to thirty days, Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) announced that Thursday will be the last day of the session.

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