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Unemployment benefits would not be reduced under legislation that goes to Gov. Brown.

Gov. Kate Brown is the final stop for a bill that fixes a legal glitch and allows higher earnings for part-time workers before their unemployment benefits are reduced.

The Oregon Senate passed House Bill 3178 without amendments on a 21-4 vote Thursday, May 6. It sets the threshold for earnings at $300 per week, rather than 10 times Oregon's minimum wage at $132.50, before benefits are reduced. The change ends Jan. 2, 2022.

The bill clarifies the definition of "unemployed" in the original legislation that cleared a special session on Aug. 10, 2020.

State Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle suggested the change last year after consulting with her counterpart in Georgia.

"As Oregon's economy continues to reopen, we must do everything we can to support workers and businesses," she said in a statement after the vote. "Oregonians are still juggling disrupted child care, part-time school, financial challenges, and the continued risk of COVID-19. Everyone can't simply go back to work as if it's February 2020.

"Now workers will have support to get back to work part time without losing money each week, and businesses can slowly open up as it's safe to do so."

The original proposal won support from the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association, whose membership counts many part-time workers.

"Oregon's hospitality industry needs a helping hand to assist our work force willing to pick up extra shifts on a part-time basis while keeping baseline benefits in place to help workers make ends meet," Jason Brandt, its president and chief executive, said in a statement. "As the industry reels from a deep worker shortage, this legislation helps workers and their employers all at the same time."

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