Florida Senate - 2021                                     SB 644
       By Senator Taddeo
       40-00788B-21                                           2021644__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to reemployment assistance; amending
    3         s. 443.111, F.S.; increasing the minimum and maximum
    4         weekly and yearly benefit amounts for reemployment
    5         assistance; increasing the duration of such benefits;
    6         creating s. 443.1318, F.S.; providing exceptions to
    7         reemployment assistance requirements during a declared
    8         state of emergency or public health emergency;
    9         reenacting ss. 443.041(2)(b) and 443.1116(7) and
   10         (8)(a), F.S., relating to attorney fees and short-time
   11         compensation, respectively, to incorporate the
   12         amendments made to s. 443.111, F.S., in references
   13         thereto; creating the Reemployment Assistance Benefits
   14         Task Force adjunct to the Department of Economic
   15         Opportunity; providing a purpose for the task force;
   16         providing for membership of the task force; requiring
   17         the task force to submit a report to the Governor and
   18         the Legislature by a specified date; providing for the
   19         expiration of the task force; providing an effective
   20         date.
   22  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   24         Section 1. Subsection (3) and paragraphs (b) and (c) of
   25  subsection (5) of section 443.111, Florida Statutes, are amended
   26  to read:
   27         443.111 Payment of benefits.—
   28         (3) WEEKLY BENEFIT AMOUNT.—An individual’s “weekly benefit
   29  amount” is an amount equal to one twenty-sixth of the total
   30  wages for insured work paid during that quarter of the base
   31  period in which the total wages paid were the highest, but not
   32  less than $200 $32 or more than $600 $275. The weekly benefit
   33  amount, if not a multiple of $1, is rounded downward to the
   34  nearest full dollar amount. The maximum weekly benefit amount in
   35  effect at the time the claimant establishes an individual weekly
   36  benefit amount is the maximum benefit amount applicable
   37  throughout the claimant’s benefit year.
   38         (5) DURATION OF BENEFITS.—
   39         (b) Each otherwise eligible individual is entitled during
   40  any benefit year to a total amount of benefits equal to 25
   41  percent of the total wages in his or her base period, not to
   42  exceed $27,600 $6,325 or the product arrived at by multiplying
   43  the weekly benefit amount with the number of weeks determined in
   44  paragraph (c), whichever is less. However, the total amount of
   45  benefits, if not a multiple of $1, is rounded downward to the
   46  nearest full dollar amount. These benefits are payable at a
   47  weekly rate no greater than the weekly benefit amount.
   48         (c) For claims submitted during a calendar year, the
   49  duration of benefits is limited to:
   50         1. Twenty-six Twelve weeks if this state’s average
   51  unemployment rate is at or below 5 percent.
   52         2. An additional week in addition to the 26 12 weeks for
   53  each 0.5 percent increment in this state’s average unemployment
   54  rate above 5 percent.
   55         3. Up to a maximum of 46 23 weeks if this state’s average
   56  unemployment rate equals or exceeds 10.5 percent.
   57         Section 2. Section 443.1318, Florida Statutes, is created
   58  to read:
   59         443.1318 Effect of state of emergency or public health
   60  emergency.—During a state of emergency declared by the Governor
   61  under chapter 252 or during a public health emergency declared
   62  pursuant to s. 381.00315:
   63         (1)The work search requirements under s. 443.091(1)(d) are
   64  suspended for the duration of the state of emergency or public
   65  health emergency.
   66         (2)Individuals who are ineligible for benefits under this
   67  chapter solely due to being a gig worker, an independent
   68  contractor, or self-employed and who would otherwise be eligible
   69  to receive benefits are eligible to receive benefits for the
   70  duration of the state of emergency or public health emergency.
   71         Section 3. For the purpose of incorporating the amendments
   72  made by this act to section 443.111, Florida Statutes, in a
   73  reference thereto, paragraph (b) of subsection (2) of section
   74  443.041, Florida Statutes, is reenacted to read:
   75         443.041 Waiver of rights; fees; privileged communications.—
   76         (2) FEES.—
   77         (b) An attorney at law representing a claimant for benefits
   78  in any district court of appeal of this state or in the Supreme
   79  Court of Florida is entitled to counsel fees payable by the
   80  department as set by the court if the petition for review or
   81  appeal is initiated by the claimant and results in a decision
   82  awarding more benefits than provided in the decision from which
   83  appeal was taken. The amount of the fee may not exceed 50
   84  percent of the total amount of regular benefits permitted under
   85  s. 443.111(5)(b) during the benefit year.
   86         Section 4. For the purpose of incorporating the amendments
   87  made by this act to section 443.111, Florida Statutes, in
   88  references thereto, subsection (7) and paragraph (a) of
   89  subsection (8) of section 443.1116, Florida Statutes, are
   90  reenacted to read:
   91         443.1116 Short-time compensation.—
   93  individual may not be paid benefits under this section in any
   94  benefit year for more than the maximum entitlement provided in
   95  s. 443.111(5), and an individual may not be paid short-time
   96  compensation benefits for more than 26 weeks in any benefit
   97  year.
  100         (a) The short-time compensation benefits paid to an
  101  individual shall be deducted from the total benefit amount
  102  established for that individual in s. 443.111(5).
  103         Section 5. (1)The Reemployment Assistance Benefits Task
  104  Force, a task force as defined in s. 20.03(8), Florida Statutes,
  105  is created adjunct to the Department of Economic Opportunity.
  106  Except as otherwise provided, the task force shall operate in a
  107  manner consistent with s. 20.052, Florida Statutes.
  108         (2)The purpose of the task force is to make
  109  recommendations on how to improve the Reemployment Assistance
  110  Claims and Benefits Information System established under s.
  111  443.1113, Florida Statutes, including how to decrease the
  112  likelihood of such system becoming inaccessible during periods
  113  of high demand, and how to streamline and increase the
  114  efficiency of the reemployment assistance application process.
  115         (3)(a)The task force shall be comprised of 12 members,
  116  appointed as follows:
  117         1.Four bipartisan members appointed by the Governor.
  118         2.Four bipartisan members appointed by the President of
  119  the Senate.
  120         3.Four bipartisan members appointed by the Speaker of the
  121  House of Representatives.
  122         (b)All appointments must be made by August 1, 2021. A
  123  vacancy shall be filled in the same manner as the initial
  124  appointment. The task force shall elect a chair from among its
  125  members.
  126         (4)The task force shall submit a report of their findings
  127  and recommendations to the Governor, the President of the
  128  Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives by
  129  January 1, 2022.
  130         (5)The Task force expires June 30, 2022.
  131         Section 6. This act shall take effect July 1, 2021.