New benefit bill gives hope to Nevada's long-term unemployed


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New benefit bill gives hope to Nevada's long-term unemployed

By Michael Lopardi. CREATED Mar 5, 2014

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- There's new hope for thousands of the long-term unemployed in Nevada.

Sen. Harry Reid has introduced a new bill to renew federal extended unemployment benefits that expired at the end of December. The federal benefits kick in after the first 26 weeks of state coverage ends.

The measure would retroactively cover benefits for six months, double the original proposal of three months. But Congress has been unable to agree to a deal, with the last attempt to pass a bill falling short of the necessary votes in February.

"We need one more Republican to support this measure," Reid said during a Wednesday news conference in Washington. "As everyone knows, we're at 59."

Some opponents feel the benefits are a disincentive for the unemployed to find work. Others want to make sure the measure is fully funded. Reid's office said savings in the recently passed Farm Bill would cover the costs.

State officials estimate an additional 800 Nevadans stop receiving unemployment checks for every week that Congress does not act.

Dorri Siler of Las Vegas is one of more than two million Americans, and thousands of Nevadans whose benefits ran out at the end of last year. She is optimistic about the latest attempt.

"I think that's exciting. I did not know anything about that," Siler said. "I hope this time it goes through."

The Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation administers unemployment benefits in the state. The agency said people should not file claims for long-term benefits after the week of March 1, at least until Congress acts.