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Bill would end additional unemployment benefit

The N.C. House on Thursday passed a bill that would withdraw the state from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation agreement, which provides an additional $300 weekly federal unemployment benefit.

S.B. 116 passed the House 71-36; the bill now heads to the Senate. District 79 Rep. Keith Kidwell voted in favor of the measure.

“North Carolina businesses have reached their tipping point,” N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore said in a release published prior to the vote. “While workers are being incentivized by the federal government to stay home, many business owners have cited the additional $300 per-week federal unemployment benefits as a prime reason why they can’t hire.

“The bottom line is if we want to truly get our economy back on track and thriving again, we cannot continue punishing businesses in the name of helping individuals. We need a more holistic approach.”

The FPUC agreement is currently set to provide additional benefits to unemployment insurance claimants through Sept. 6, 2021. If the measure is approved, the extra benefit would end 30 days after the bill becomes law.

In addition to the FPUC withdrawal, the bill also forgives taxes on the first $10,200 in unemployment benefits people received last year, and it also forgives taxes on Paycheck protection program loan forgiveness. The bill also uses $250 million in American Rescue Plan funds to subsidize child care for eligible children. That money would be appropriated to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Child Development and Early Education.