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Gov. Nixon signs unemployment bill

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Gov. Jay Nixon has signed into law House Bill 163, which extends the length of unemployment assistance, according to an April 13 news release from the governor's office.

The bill is set to provide an additional 20 weeks of assistance to Missourians who have exhausted 79 weeks of state and emergency federal assistance. The extra 20 weeks will be paid for by the federal government.

Approximately 10,000 Missourians are expected to begin using the extended assistance immediately, while an additional 24,000 are projected to pick up the aid by 2012, according to the release.

"I appreciate the leaders from both sides of the aisle who joined me in standing up for Missouri families who need our help now to put food on the table, fill prescriptions and keep the lights on," Nixon said in the release. "When our friends and neighbors lose their jobs through no fault of their own, it's up to all of us to help them get back on their feet and back to work."

Before moving to Nixon's desk, the bill passed the Missouri Senate by a vote of 28-5 and the Missouri House of Representatives by a vote of 138-13.

The extension of unemployment assistance is estimated to pump approximately $105 million into the state economy by the end of the calendar year, according the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, which will notify eligible Missourians of the extended assistance.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which supported passage of the bill - calling it "a safety net for unemployed Missourians" - noted in a separate news release that the tradeoff with the bill is that, going forward, Missouri would reduce the number of weeks it pays unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to 20 weeks.

With the change, Missouri employers could see as much as a 23 percent reduction in costs of unemployment insurance, the release said.

"This tax cut can be used directly by businesses to create and retain jobs in Missouri," Missouri Chamber President and CEO Daniel Mehan said in the release.[[In-content Ad]]

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