Thursday, May 24, 2018
Editorials

New hurdles for Florida jobless

As the slow economic recovery shows signs of stalling, those with the most to fear might be Florida's unemployed. The state's year-old process for applying for unemployment benefits is too difficult, and it should not take nearly two hours to complete. The artificial obstacles, recounted in a complaint by two workers' rights organizations to the U.S. Labor Department, appear designed to suppress the demand for benefits rather than to make it easier for those who need help to get it.

Under rules that went into effect Aug. 1, those seeking unemployment benefits must apply online and complete a 45-question skills test just to clear the first hurdle of the process. For middle-class families this may seem like a breeze. But for those without Internet access, the elderly or non-English speakers, it can be a challenge. The ultimate result of the changes, say the National Employment Law Project and Florida Legal Services, is that "the process of filing an initial claim for benefits is much more difficult for the average Floridian, and many potentially eligible claimants are being discouraged from filing." The groups say Florida has the lowest rate of benefits received in the country, with only 17 percent of the unemployed getting state benefits. The national average is 27 percent.

In approving the rules, Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-controlled Legislature took a business-friendly approach too far. Businesses pay for unemployment benefits; now they pay less. The fact that the unemployment rate in Florida has dropped to a three-year low of 8.7 percent should reflect that more people are working, not that more people have given up looking or applying for benefits.

The groups say Florida's unemployment rules violate the federal Social Security Act, which requires states to "establish methods of administration reasonably calculated to insure payment of benefits when due." The Labor Department will have to come to its own conclusion, but it is absolutely clear that the state's changes have made it more difficult to apply.

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Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

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Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

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Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

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Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
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Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

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Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

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Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18