Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council Meeting Minutes
Tuesday, January 22, 2008 – 9:00 a.m.
GEF – 1, Room B205
201 East Washington Avenue
Management: James Buchen, Ed Lump, Dan Petersen, Earl Gustafson (via teleconference), Susan Haine
Labor: Phil Neuenfeldt, Patty Yunk, Dennis Penkalski (via teleconference)
Chair: Daniel LaRocque
Department staff present: Hal Bergan, Robert Whittaker, Dick Tillema, Tracey Schwalbe, Lutfi Shahrani, JoAnn Hium, Ben Peirce, Carla Breber, Andrea Reid, Brian Bradley, Troy Sterr, Christopher O’Brien, David Heuer, Randy Hardin.
Others present: Bob Andersen (Legal Action of Wisconsin), Michael Metz (WI Independent Business), John Metcalf (Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce).
Mr. LaRocque calls the meeting to order at 10:03 a.m.
1. Opening Remarks – Hal Bergan
No opening remarks.
2. Minutes of Meeting November 29, 2007
Motion (Peterson), seconded (Haine), to approve the Minutes of the November 29, 2007, meeting. Minutes are approved unanimously.
3. Approval of Agreed UI Bill
Mr. LaRocque updates the Council on the bill since November 29. The LRB draft 3070/P7 was distributed to the Council on December 21. At that time we had discussed possible changes to the agreement on electronic reporting by new employers and employers of 25 or more employees. The Council had agreed to require new employers and employers of 25 or more employees to file electronically. We incorporated a change that relieved new employers from electronic reporting. The new LRB draft 3070/P9 does not require new employers to file reports electronically. The department also worked with the LRB to make the usual technical changes to the draft.
Question (Peterson): Does this affect the requirement that if you elect to defer first quarter contributions you must do so electronically?
Mr. LaRocque indicates that the requirement remains in the bill that those who would elect to defer first quarter premiums must elect the deferral and file reports electronically.
The current LRB draft 3070/P9 has been distributed to the Council. In the course of preparing this draft, the department had discussions with the employee representatives on the Council (“Labor”) regarding the provisions of the draft dealing with department proposal D07-01, which is designed to streamline and consolidate certain provisions of the law dealing with “able to work and available for work.”
D07-01 was approved by the Council with proposed statutory language on May 29, 2007. The proposed statutory language was put into the LRB drafts. The changes discussed with Labor resulted from the Council meeting minutes, which showed some inconsistency in the way the department described the proposal. Phil Neuenfeldt and his attorney consulted with the department on the language, and we arrived at language that the department agreed to.
The proposed language for Sections 6, 7 and 8 was distributed to the Council last Friday, January 18. Mr. LaRocque did get feedback from Bob Andersen and Marianne Robbins, the attorney for Labor, to the effect that the draft language is acceptable. Bob Andersen (Legal Action of Wisconsin) indicates agreement.
Mr. LaRocque summarizes the agreement regarding Sections 6 and 7 relating to section 108.04(1)(a). Sections 6 and 7 deal with the “work available” provision of the statute, which means the employer gives notice to an employee of some particular work that is available and the employee either declines it because he or she is unable to do it or is unavailable to do the work. The department proposed to take those situations and divide them into two groups where those who miss more than 16 hours of work available in a given week will be ineligible for benefits; those who miss 16 or fewer hours will have the partial wage formula applied and may be eligible for a partial benefits. In the draft language approved last May, the department had the provision that if the employee “misses work on” more than two days, in other words, if an employee missed any part of a day on three days in a week, then they would be ineligible. Labor had a concern that an injustice could occur if someone misses as little as one hour per day on three or more days in a week; they would not get benefits even if they otherwise might qualify. We compromised by requiring the ineligibility only when they miss more than 16 hours in a week.
Question (Haine): If a person misses more than 16 hours in a week, they are ineligible, however, if they miss 16 hours or less they can qualify for partial benefits for the week. Is this correct?
Mr. LaRocque clarifies that this is only one type of able and available issue, called the “work available” issue, where work is offered and declined.
Mr. LaRocque summarizes the agreement regarding Section 8 of the bill draft, relating to section 108.04(1)(b). Section 8 deals with those who are on a leave of absence, are suspended because they are unable or unavailable, or are terminated because they are unable or unavailable. The Council approved a significant change here for those who are on leaves of absence. Under current law, those who are on leaves of absence are almost always ineligible per se; they may be eligible for a partial benefit check if they miss a part of a week. Under the new law, claimants on leave may get benefits even if they miss a whole week, provided they are able and available. The fiscal effects on these changes are very small; this is the $100,000 that is favorable to the claimants.
Section 8 also splits claimants into two groups. If a claimant is not able and available the first week of a leave of absence or the week a suspension or termination occurs, if the claimant works part of the week and does not miss more than 16 hours, the claimant may be eligible for a partial benefit check. In the first week of a leave of absence, if the claimant misses more than 16 hours and is able and available, he or she still may get benefits.
The difference between what was agreed upon originally and the language agreed upon with Labor is minor. Mr. Tillema indicates that it would be an extremely small number of people who would be treated differently.
The department proposes to take LRB 3070/P9 and make these changes to Sections 6, 7, and 8 that are in the email of draft language that went to the Council.
Motion (Yunk), to approve LRB 3070/P9 incorporating the changes to Sections 6, 7 and 8.
Motion (Buchen), seconded (Yunk), is passed unanimously to go into closed session to discuss all proposals by Labor, Management and the Department for changes to the unemployment insurance statute and rules pursuant to section 19.85(1)(ee) of the Wisconsin Statutes. Closed sessions by the management and labor members of the Council, respectively, begin at 10:25 a.m.
Open session resumes at 10:50 a.m.
Motion (Yunk), to approve LRB 3070/P9 incorporating the changes to Sections 6, 7 and 8 agreed upon with Labor is seconded (Buchen). The Agreed UI Bill is approved unanimously.
4. Schedule future meetings
No meetings are scheduled.
Comment (Neuenfeldt): Can the department provide talking points on the key provisions of the bill that they can use in the legislative process. He has spoken with the legislative leadership and kept them informed of the agreement, but the talking points would be helpful.
Mr. LaRocque indicates that this can be provided.
Comment (Buchen): He has spoken with Republican members of the legislature and it has been going well.
Mr. LaRocque indicates that he had a message from Senator Coggs office that they were anticipating a February 12 hearing date. He will contact the LRB to get the changes made and the bill finalized.
Question (Lump): Could the department update the summary sheet (chart analyzing the bill provisions) so he could circulate it to other interested parties?
Mr. LaRocque indicates that he will do this.
Motion to adjourn (Neuenfeldt), seconded (Peterson), passes unanimously.