Legislative Document 700, “An Act to Give Flexibility to Employees and Employers for Temporary Layoffs”, was intended to assist Maine employers by keeping their trained employees available (not requiring them to look for new jobs) while on a temporary layoff. We discussed in a bulletin earlier this month, Governor LePage’s veto of the bill. We have now learned that the legislature has overruled the governor’s veto.
Governor Paul LePage has responded with a letter to the employers of Maine, urging them to get involved to repeal this “outrageous” law. LePage begins the letter with a warning of a probable rise in unemployment taxes should L.D. 700 be signed into law. He goes on to say that legislation such as this turns the basic intent of unemployment insurance from a safety net to an entitlement, incentivizing being jobless to collect wages. The viewpoint of the governor is that the bill lowers competition and is the wrong solution for the state’s economy as well as the workforce. He also comments on the risk factor of certain laid off workers not getting re-hired, due to contracts falling through, etc, resulting in workers having collected benefits without looking for a job, left unprepared. LePage’s disdain for the bill also includes a portion of the legislation, which limits work searches to a 35 mile radius. LePage expresses this as an additional threat for a thriving workforce, stating the rural nature of the state lends itself to common lengthy commutes. Unemployment insurance is a means to keep workers connected in the labor market, which Governor LePage claims LD 700 relaxes the rules on, putting the state at a disadvantage.
We will continue to follow the story to learn the outcome of the proposed legislation and how it affects unemployment insurance and the overall economy of the state.