Runestad issues statement on extension of unemployment benefits

LANSING, Mich. — After the state Senate on Thursday approved Senate Bill 604 to extend unemployment assistance to millions of out-of-work Michiganders through the spring of 2021, Sen. Jim Runestad, R-White Lake, issued the following statement:

“In these difficult times, it’s more important than ever that we make a difference for the most vulnerable in our communities. A critical aspect of Senate Bill 604 is its aid for those suffering from domestic abuse. This bill will ensure that individuals who leave violent homes have access to unemployment benefits.

“Local law enforcement and prosecutors have reported increases in charges of domestic abuse and battery. Government mandates intended to help combat the spread of COVID-19 have likely contributed to increases in domestic violence. As more and more businesses close their doors and lay off workers, stress and anxiety compound already volatile living situations.

“While extending these benefits is the reasonable thing to do, I am continually frustrated by the state’s unreasonable response rate to those seeking to receive their unemployment benefits in a timely manner. My office is helping thousands of my constituents get the benefits they paid for and deserve to receive. While not all these individuals face the added challenge of being a victim of domestic violence, some continue to wait for months to receive their benefits while trying to make ends meet.

“By passing SB 604, we are not only extending unemployment benefits in this challenging time but also offering support to women, men and children living in stressful and fearful circumstances so they may escape abuse and find safety.”