A bill that would allow people to perform community service to fulfill a requirement for unemployment benefits passed out of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee Friday morning.
The Employment Security Department requires people collecting unemployment benefits to perform three job search actions a week — either applying to a job or attending an employment workshop. SB 6392 and HB 2690 would allow the option of performing two hours of community service as one of those three activities.
Two high school students, Marissa Martz and Kristen Hoffmann of Snohomish High School, approached legislators with this proposal, according to Jerry Cornfield of The Herald of Everett.
The bill considered Friday was amended from the students’ original version of the bill, which would have required the community service in addition to the existing unemployment benefit requirements.
They testified to Senate committee on Friday and to the House Labor and Workforce Development on Wednesday.
They argued that the requirement could help the unemployed find work.
“Instead of just a piece of paper given to an employer, like a resume, you actually get to show what you’re doing and what you’re worth,” Hoffmann told the Senate committee Friday.
Several people signed in opposition to the bill, including representatives from Legal Voice, Unemployment Law Project, Washington State Labor Council and the Washington Education Association.
Neil Gorrell, Unemployment Insurance Director, said the original bill would have violated federal law, but making the community service optional instead of mandatory takes care of the issue.
The department was neutral on the version of the bill considered Friday, he said.