Senate committee passes unemployment insurance tax freeze for businesses

As Kentucky businesses continue to recover from the pandemic, Kentucky lawmakers are working on a policy to shield companies from increased costs related to the unemployment insurance system.

House Bill 144, sponsored by Rep. Russell Webber, suspends taxable wage base and holds the 2020 tax schedule for 2022 when it comes to unemployment insurance, as employers face a huge increase in the face of high unemployment rates as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation also requires all benefits paid due to a declared emergency come from a pooled account and not individual employers reserve accounts.

This language was passed through the General Assembly in the 2021 session with the year 2022 included in the bill, but that portion of the legislation was line-item vetoed by Gov. Andy Beshear.

Rep. Russell Webber told the Senate Economic Development, Tourism, and Labor Committee the legislation would save Kentucky employers around $70 per employee on average by freezing the rate. He also noted the House budget also took steps to shore up the UI system with money to bring the fund closer to pre-pandemic levels.

When asked about other initiatives to tackle Kentucky’s workforce shortage which contributes to these ongoing issues, Kentucky Chamber Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Kate Shanks told the committee about the many programs being run by the Kentucky Chamber Foundation including Talent Pipeline Management, Bus to Business, recovery efforts and more. She also pointed to the Chamber’s top legislative priority of reforming Kentucky’s tax code to make the state more competitive to bring more jobs and employees to Kentucky.

House Bill 144 has passed through the House and now moves to the full Senate for a vote following its passage in the Senate committee Tuesday.

Stay tunes to The Bottom Line for more updates on this issue.

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Jacqueline Pitts
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