January 24, 2024

Testimony on SB 1260 Before the Florida Senate Appropriations Committee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development

The testimony below was provided before the Florida Senate Appropriations Committee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development on Senate Bill SB 1260, legislation that would create additional barriers to accessing Reemployment Assistance.

I ask that you oppose this bill [SB 1260]. 

The bill repeals the requirement that the initial skills review test for Unemployment Assistance be voluntary.   

But the history of the initial skills review shows how harmful it can be when mandated. The skills review assessment was first implemented on a mandatory basis in 2011, I believe. And it created red tape — totally unnecessary red tape — for people who had lost their jobs through no fault of their own. It was such an across-the-board barrier to Reemployment Assistance that in about an 8-month period, it was reported to have resulted in the denial of benefits to more than 43,000 workers. In fact, in the first three months of 2012, procedural denials in Florida climbed by about 200 percent and fewer than half of new applications were granted assistance.  

Plus, the mandatory skills assessment was the subject of a civil rights complaint filed with the U.S. Dept of Labor in 2011 due to the impact of a mandatory skills review on people with disabilities and people with limited English proficiency. At that time, the Department of Labor found that the mandatory skills assessment was unlawful for several reasons, including that it violated federal nondiscrimination law because it tended to screen out persons with disabilities from fully and equally participating in Reemployment Assistance. For all those reasons, in 2014, the Legislature reversed course and explicitly made the skills review voluntary. 

I am also concerned about the requirement that people go once a week in person to submit a job application with employers with an expected job opening.  

In today’s world, many employers ask that job applications be submitted online. Plus, claimants must know that there is an “expected job opening,” which is not something that most people can be expected to know. So, the requirement that workers go in person once a week to submit a job application is an entirely unnecessary and antiquated requirement that, for many people, will do little more than create a barrier to assistance.  

I ask that you not turn the clock back. A “no” vote on this bill will demonstrate a strong commitment to hard working Floridians who are doing their best to get back on their feet and take care of their families after they lose their jobs. 

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