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NO. 101. AN ACT RELATING TO UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION

(H.315)

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1. 21 V.S.A. § 1301(4) is amended to read:

(4) "Employing unit" means any individual or type of organization, including any partnership, association, labor organization as defined in section 2(5) of the National Labor Relations Act, trust, estate, joint stock company, insurance company or corporation, whether domestic or foreign, or the receiver, trustee in bankruptcy, trustee or successor thereof, or the legal representative of a deceased person, any federal, state or local governmental a entity, which has had in its employ since January 1, 1936, one or more individuals performing services for it within this state. All individuals performing services within this state for any employing unit which maintains two or more separate establishments within this state shall be deemed to be employed by a single employing unit for all the purposes of this chapter.

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Sec. 2. 21 V.S.A. § 1314a(i) is added to read:

(i) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section, the commissioner may where practicable require of employing units with 25 or more employees that the reports required to be filed pursuant to subsections (a) through (d) of this section be filed in an electronic media form.

Sec. 3. 21 V.S.A. § 1337 is amended to read:

§ 1337. ADJUSTMENTS AND REFUNDS

If not later than *[two]* three years after the date on which any contributions or interest thereon became due, an employer who has paid such contributions or interest thereon shall make application for an adjustment thereof in connection with subsequent contribution payments, or for a refund thereof because such adjustment cannot be made, and the commissioner shall determine that such payments or any portion thereof were erroneously collected, the commissioner shall allow such employer to make an adjustment thereof, without interest, in connection with subsequent payments by him or her, or if such adjustment cannot be made, shall refund said amount without interest from the fund. Forlike cause and within the same period, adjustment or refund may be so made on the commissioner's own initiative.

Sec. 4. 21 V.S.A. § 1347(b) is amended to read:

(b) Any person who receives remuneration described in subdivisions (A), (B), (C), (D), *[or]* (E), or (F) of section 1344(a)(5) of this title which is allocable in whole or in part to prior weeks during which he or she received any amounts as benefits under this chapter shall be liable for all such amounts of benefits or those portions of such amounts equal to the portions of such remuneration properly allocable to the weeks in question. Notice of determination in such cases shall specify that the person is liable to repay to the fund the amount of overpaid benefits, the basis of the overpayment, and the week or weeks for which such benefits were paid. The determination shall be made within three years from the date of such overpayment or within one year from the date of receipt of the remuneration, whichever period is longer.

Sec. 5. 21 V.S.A. § 1367b is added to read:

§ 1367b. FOOD STAMP INTERCEPT OF UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

(a) An individual filing a new claim for unemployment compensation shall, at the time of filing such claim, disclose whether or not he or she owes an uncollected over issuance (as defined in section 13(c)(1) of the Food Stamp Act of 1977) of food stamp coupons. The commissioner shall notify the state food stamp agency enforcing such obligation of any individual who discloses that he or she owes an uncollected over issuance of food stamp coupons and who is determined to be eligible for unemployment compensation.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 1366 and 1367 of this title, the commissioner shall deduct and withhold from any unemployment compensation payable to an individual who owes an uncollected over issuance of food stamp coupons:

(1) the amount specified by the individual to the commissioner to be deducted and withheld under this section; or

(2) the amount (if any) determined pursuant to an agreement submitted to the state food stamp agency under section 13(c)(3)(A) of the Food Stamp Act of 1977; or

(3) any amount otherwise required to be deducted and withheld fromunemployment compensation pursuant to section 13(c)(3)(B) of the Food Stamp Act of 1977.

(c) Any amount deducted and withheld under subsection (b) of this section shall be paid by the commissioner to the appropriate state food stamp agency.

(d) Any amount deducted and withheld under subsection (b) of this section shall for all purposes be treated as if it were paid to the individual as unemployment compensation and paid by such individual to the state food stamp agency as repayment of the individual's uncollected over issuance of food stamp coupons.

(e) For purposes of this section, the term "unemployment compensation" means any compensation payable under this chapter, and any federal benefit payments made pursuant to agreements with the United States Department of Labor.

(f) This section applies only if arrangements have been made for reimbursement by the state food stamp agency for the administrative costs incurred by the commissioner under this section which are attributable to the repayment of uncollected over issuances of food stamp coupons to the state food stamp agency.

(g) Any deduction and withholding authorized by this section shall not exceed 25 percent of the individual's weekly benefit amount.

Sec. 6. 21 V.S.A. § 1301(24) is added to read:

(24) "Self-employment":

(A) Except as provided in subdivision (24)(B), an individual shall be deemed "self-employed" or "engaged in self-employment" in any week during which he or she is engaged, not in the employ of another, in the formation, development or operation of a trade, business, enterprise, profession or any other activity which he or she has undertaken for the purpose of producing income and which is in the form of a sole proprietorship, partnership, joint venture, or other similar entity.

(B) An individual who is able to work and available for full-time work shall not be deemed to be self-employed or engaged in self-employment solely by reason of continued participation without substantial change during a period of unemployment in any activity undertaken while customarily employed by an employer in full-time work (whether or not such work constituted employment) and continued subsequent to separation from such work when such activity is not engaged in as a primary source of livelihood. Earnings from such a sideline activity shall not constitute wages ordisqualifying income for unemployment purposes.

Sec. 7. 21 V.S.A. § 1325(b) is amended to read:

(b)(1) Any individual or employing unit who in any manner succeeds to or acquires the organization, trade or business or substantially all of the assets of any employer who has been operating his or her business within two weeks prior to the acquisition, except any assets retained by the employer incident to the liquidation of his or her obligations, and who thereafter continues the acquired business shall be considered to be a successor to the predecessor from whom the business was acquired and, if not already an employer before the acquisition, shall become an employer on the date of the acquisition. The commissioner shall transfer the experience-rating record of the predecessor employer to the successor employer. If the successor was not an employer before the date of acquisition, his or her rate of contribution for the remainder of the rate year shall be the rate applicable to the predecessor employers with respect to the period immediately preceding the date of acquisition if there was only one predecessor or there were only predecessors with identical rates. If the predecessors' rates were not identical, the commissioner shall determine a rate based on the combined experience of all the predecessor employers. If the successor was an employer before the date of acquisition, the contribution rate which was assigned to the successor for the rate year in which the acquisition occurred will remain assigned to the successor for the remainder of the rate year, after which the experience-rating record of the predecessor shall be combined with the experience rating of the successor to form the single employer experience-rating record of the successor.

(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (1) of this subsection, an individual or employing unit who in any manner succeeds to or acquires the organization, trade, or business or substantially all of the assets of any employing unit who was an employer before the date of acquisition and whose currently assigned contribution rate is higher than that currently assigned to the acquiring individual or employing unit shall not be treated as a successor.

Sec. 8. 21 V.S.A. § 1343(a)(7) is added to read:

§ 1343. CONDITIONS

(a) An unemployed individual shall be eligible to receive benefits with respect to any week only if the commissioner finds that:

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(7) He or she is not self-employed or engaged in self-employment to the extent that it makes him or her unavailable for work.

Sec. 9. REPEAL

21 V.S.A. § 1325(d) and (e) are repealed.

Sec. 10. 21 V.S.A. § 1338(f) is amended to read:

(f) The maximum weekly benefit amount shall be *[$146.00 from July 1, 1983 through June 30, 1986]* $265.00 from July 1, 1998 through June 30, 1999, adjusted by a percentage equal to the percentage change during the preceding calendar year in the state average weekly wage as determined by subsection (g) of the section. Thereafter, on the first day of the first calendar week of July, the maximum weekly benefit amount shall be adjusted by a percentage equal to the percentage change during the preceding calendar year in the state average weekly wage as determined by subsection (g) of the section; provided, that the maximum weekly benefit amount shall not be adjusted if any advances made on or after April 1, 1982, to the State Unemployment Compensation Fund pursuant to Title XII of the Social Security Act, as amended, remain unpaid*[, nor shall any adjustment be made unless the loss of federal tax credit assessed against employers for repayment of advances made prior to April 1, 1982 remain at six tenth of one percent or below]*.

Approved: April 16, 1998