More than 3,000 jobless Minnesotans would get extended unemployment benefits in the first bill to clear the Legislature this year.
The unemployment extension sailed through the House on a 117-11 vote, after passing the Senate unanimously two weeks ago.
The bill now heads to Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
The bill targets about 10 percent of unemployed Minnesotans who have used up state unemployment benefits but don't qualify for a federal extension.
“Our economy is in tatters, and we need to make sure that people's lives don't end up in tatters.”Rep. Tim Mahoney, DFL-St. Paul
It would make about half of those people eligible for the federal extension through a technical change. It taps the state unemployment trust fund for the other half.
Rep. Tim Mahoney said 3,000 people would be eligible immediately and another 150 could qualify each week if Pawlenty signs the bill. He said the extra benefits would help them keep their homes and health insurance.
A few Republicans objected on the House floor, saying the extension would burden a strained state unemployment trust fund.
Mahoney said it would have little effect on the fund, which is already projected to run out of money and borrow from a federal fund at the end of the year.
"Our economy is in tatters and we need to make sure that people's lives don't end up in tatters," said Mahoney, DFL-St. Paul.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)