published Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Tennessee Senate passes bill to help the unemployed

NASHVILLE — The Senate today unanimously passed a bill aimed at helping some Tennesseans on unemployment with training and jobs.

It also is projected to save the state about $900,000.

Using federal funds, the Tennessee Works Act, sponsored by Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, creates a pilot program that provides private employers with money for training expenses for workers whose jobs have gone overseas. In order to continue receiving grant funds, employers must agree to hire some of the trained employees.

The bill received bipartisan support with both Republican Gov. Bill Haslam and GOP lawmakers backing it.

“This bill links job seekers with job creators to grow our economy faster and make our communities stronger,” Berke said in a news release. “When we work together in Nashville, we can help put people back to work across Tennessee.”

Because the bill will help move Tennesseans off unemployment faster, it will save the state more than $900,000 in unemployment benefits. In committee testimony, Berke estimated as many as 1,000 unemployed workers could benefit.

 The House version of the bill is set to be heard in the Finance Committee this week.

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