Iowa workers who’ve been laid off would receive more generous unemployment benefits under legislation awaiting debate in the full Iowa Senate. With the help of a federal grant, the state would extend benefits for a full 26 weeks to laid-off workers — if they’re in training for another job.

Senator Bill Dotzler, a Democrat from Waterloo, says benefits would also get to those people more quickly. Dotzler says, "Currently, under the way the law operates, it’s possible for somebody who hadn’t worked enough weeks in the previous quarter to be delayed benefits until they requalified."

Under the new law, the state’s unemployment trust fund would provide benefits immediately, without extending the total number of weeks the worker would receive aid.

The Senate Labor committee has agreed to provide benefits right away to workers who, in the past, would not be immediately eligible. Dotzler says some workers are hurt by the rules based on how long they’ve worked. "You could get laid off and not receive any unemployment benefits for up to several weeks," Dotzler says. "This allows unemployed workers to collect benefits immediately but they would not extend the amount of weeks that they would be given."

The changes would make Iowa eligible for 71-million dollars in federal funds. The money may also make it possible to reduce the payments businesses must make into the unemployment trust fund when they lay workers off.