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April 28, 2009
New Law Expands Access to Unemployment Benefits in Oregon
On April 21, 2009, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski signed legislation (Senate Bill 462) that creates an “Alternative Base Year” on which unemployment benefits will be determined. The change will allow 6,000 more unemployed Oregonians to qualify for unemployment benefits, according the Governor.

Under current law, eligibility for benefits is based on a “Base Year” in which wages are counted in 4 of the last 5 calendar quarters. However, the wages from the most completed quarter are not counted. Under the new legislation, which takes effect July 1, 2009, the base year will include wages counted in the 4 most recent completed quarters.

“By changing how benefits are calculated we are opening the door for thousands of Oregonians to get help when they desperately need it,” Kulongoski said upon signing the bill.

The legislation will also allow Oregon to receive $85 million dollars in federal funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 “to further enhance the state unemployment insurance system,” according to the Governor’s website. “With this bill we will be able to take advantage of federal dollars to help Oregon provide more efficient and comprehensive unemployment insurance services to the people who need them,” Kulongoski said.

A press release announcing the signing explains that Oregon’s Employment Department will contact individuals who will qualify for benefits under this new law.

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