Gov. Phil Bryant signed Tuesday comprehensive legislation to preserve the integrity of Mississippi's unemployment compensation program.
"Senate Bill 2604 is another important step in my plan to make Mississippi the most-job friendly state in the nation," Bryant said. "This legislation protects the unemployed Mississippian that should rightfully receive unemployment benefits, and it protects the employer by holding down unemployment taxes. This law will also make Mississippi the first state in the nation to drug test applicants that seek to receive unemployment benefits."
Senate Bill 2604 does three things:
1. Protects the financial soundness of the Unemployment Benefits Trust Fund by imposing a 20 percent penalty on people who fraudulently obtain unemployment benefits.
2. Creates the Self-Employment Assistance Program to encourage unemployed Mississippians to become entrepreneurs and start their own businesses. Through the program, certain individuals receiving unemployment benefits can participate in business development training and mentoring to enable them to launch businesses, become self-employed and create jobs for other Mississippians.
3. Authorizes the Mississippi Department of Employment Security to deny unemployment benefits to applicants who fail random drug tests.
Mark Henry, executive director MDES, said, "By cracking down on unemployment fraud, this legislation will help ensure that Mississippians who are qualified to receive unemployment benefits can do so. The legislation will also help unemployed Mississippians learn entrepreneurial skills so they can then launch their own businesses. I commend the Legislature and Gov. Bryant for approving this innovative measure."