Saying that unemployed Tennesseans should not have to chose between keeping a roof over their heads and getting skills for a new career, State Rep. Joe Pitts supported legislation to end that dilemma. House Democrats have sponsored a bill that would let laid off Tennesseans retain their unemployment benefits while they return to school to be retrained for new careers.
The legislation would allow a person receiving unemployment benefits due to losing their job to retain those benefits when they choose to return to college to get new job skills to succeed in tomorrow’s economy. The measure was approved by all present members of the Tennessee House of Representatives on Thursday.
“There are tens of thousands of Tennesseans who have lost their jobs during this economic slowdown and currently they can’t go back to school without losing the one thing keeping them from being out on the street,” said Pitts. “We should be helping these people retrain for the jobs of tomorrow, not forcing them to choose between a roof over their head or the classes they need to succeed in tomorrow’s economy.”
Under the legislation sponsored by State Representatives Joe Towns (D-Memphis), G.A. Hardaway (D-Memphis) and Henry Fincher (D-Cookeville), a person who is currently receiving unemployment benefits due to losing their job would not be denied those benefits if they choose to go back to college while they continue their search for new employment.
“We have people of every age and background no longer able to find work because their skills don’t match the available jobs,” said Pitts. “This legislation allows people to gain the skills they need without having to sacrifice the only source of income available to them.”
The bill passed the House unanimously 96-0 and will now wait on the Senate to take action on the measure. Earlier this month the bill was placed in the General Subcommittee of Commerce, Labor and Agriculture. The United States Congress is also slated to take up similar legislation later this year.
The Montgomery County State Legislative Delegation is Senator Tim Barnes, Rep. Joe Pitts, Rep. Curtis Johnson, and Rep. Phillip Johnson. Rep. Pitts may be reached at: ; Rep. Curtis Johnson: ; Rep. Phillip Johnson: ; Senator Tim Barnes: