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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

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Rep. Brown wants to connect ‘patchwork’ of services 

A second hearing has been held on a bill that would require applicants for unemployment insurance to register with OhioMeansJobs.com prior to applying for benefits.

State Representative Tim Brown (R – Bowling Green), who co-sponsored House Bill 2, said last week that Tracy Intihar, director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation, and Bruce Madson, assistant director of Employment Services for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, offered supportive testimony of the bill.

The bill has been assigned to the House Manufacturing and Workforce Development Committee.

Rep. Brown testified earlier before the committee on the bill, which is his first piece of legislation since being elected last November.

The bill also requires applicants to contact their local Job and Family Services office by the eighth week of unemployment benefits.

“This bill will result in immediately familiarizing those who have lost their jobs with those who are on the front lines helping our fellow citizens find the tools, skills, improvements and training that are necessary to get work,” Brown said.

OhioMeansJobs.com is a job placement website that allows employers and job seekers to post information.

The bill specifies someone registered on the website must receive a weekly listing of available jobs based on information he or she provides when registering. Brown said the bill ensures applicants will receive an email on a constant basis about job opportunities relevant to their background and experience.

The bill doesn’t change current law, which requires those receiving unemployment benefits to keep a record of their job searching efforts and provide that record to the ODJFS.

“Our primary goal is to move as many unemployed citizens as quickly as possible into a setting that will assist them in finding a job,” Brown said.

He said the bill will help connect “the patchwork of different services that exist for individuals on unemployment insurance.”

An analysis of the bill by the Legislative Service Commission projects it would increase costs to upgrade the computer system of the Ohio Office of Unemployment Compensation to interface with OhioMeansJobs.com.

The ODJFS has estimated it will cost $131,250 to $314,500 to enhance both systems. The department has already received a grant of $12 million to upgrade the OMJ system and could use part of those funds to meet the requirements of the bill, the analysis says.

To be eligible for unemployment benefits, an applicant must have worked at least 20 weeks for an employer participating in the unemployment compensation system.

For 2013, wages must be at least $230 on average per week before taxes or other deductions.

The benefit period equals the number of weeks worked, from a minimum of 20 weeks up to 26 weeks.

In 2012, the average weekly benefit was about $305, which was received on average for about 17 weeks. 

Tim Derickson (R- Hanover Twp.) is a co-sponsor of the bill.