Governor Ducey Signs Legislation To Expand Access To Unemployment Benefits
Governor Doug Ducey today signed S.B. 1694, legislation to expand access to unemployment benefits for Arizonans affected by COVID-19 by waiving certain Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) eligibility requirements. The legislation, which was sponsored by Senate President Karen Fann and House Speaker Rusty Bowers, passed the Arizona Legislature on March 23 with unanimous support.
“Arizona will continue to provide support to those in need while we combat the spread of COVID-19,” said Governor Ducey. “This legislation will waive certain requirements for unemployment eligibility, giving hardworking Arizonans the helping hand they need while we get through this difficult time. My sincere thanks to Senate President Fann, Speaker Bowers and members of the Arizona Legislature for working to support our fellow Arizonans.”
The legislation will make more Arizonans eligible for unemployment benefits during the outbreak. It also aligns Arizona eligibility requirements with federal guidance for individuals and employers directly affected by COVID-19. While Unemployment Insurance is typically only available to individuals who have lost their job, this bill expands eligibility to individuals in the following situations:
Individuals who are not receiving wages due to their workplace closing due to COVID-19 — even if the individual intends to go back to work when the business reopens;
Individuals who are following directives to self-quarantine and intend to return to work;
And individuals who leave employment to care for a family member.
This legislation applies retroactively to March 10, 2020.
On March 20, 2020, Governor Ducey issued an Executive Order to ensure those who are out of work or facing economic hardship because of COVID-19 have access to unemployment benefits. The order takes action such as waiving the one-week waiting period after an employee loses a job before they apply for unemployment benefits and waiving work search requirements for those receiving unemployment benefits.
View the Executive Order HERE.
Earlier this week, the Governor announced efforts to expand federal food assistance programs in Arizona to allow the purchase of hot meals with these benefits and result in timelier approval of eligibility. Governor Ducey issued an Executive Order requiring health care insurance companies to expand telemedicine coverage for all services that would normally be covered for an in-person visit. The order helps ensure that Arizonans who may be sick or under quarantine can access care from their homes and avoid potentially risky trips to a health care provider.
Governor Ducey Signs Legislation To Support Schools, Teachers And Families
Governor Doug Ducey today signed legislation to support schools during closures, provide clarity and flexibility on statewide testing requirements and school letter grades, give direction on make-up days, require learning opportunities for students to continue, and ensure teachers and staff see no disruption in pay as a result of COVID-19.
The legislation, H.B. 2910, was introduced by Representative Michelle Udall and received unanimous support in both the House and the Senate.
“During this unprecedented time, parents and educators need certainty so they can plan and make decisions — and this bill provides it,” said Governor Ducey. “It protects our teachers and prioritizes our students, ensuring kids continue to receive instruction even with schools closed. I’m grateful to our education leaders, Superintendent Hoffman, Representative Udall and Senator Sylvia Allen for their leadership, and thank members of both parties for their unanimous support. This is what coming together to support our kids and families looks like, and Arizona is again leading the way.”
Under H.B. 2910, public schools in the state are not required to extend the number of school days or add additional instructional hours to make up for the days missed after the statewide closure ends. The statewide assessment requirement for 2020 is cancelled. All school employees—including hourly employees—will continue to be paid during the closures.
Additionally, beginning on Monday, March 30, 2020, schools will offer students general education through alternative formats for the duration of the closure. This allows public school employees who are able to perform their tasks outside of school to resume work remotely on March 30. If an employee is unable to perform their work remotely, they will be assigned other tasks.
On Sunday, March 15, Governor Ducey and Superintendent Kathy Hoffman announced a statewide closure of Arizona schools from Monday, March 16, 2020 through Friday, March 27, 2020. On Friday, March 20, they announced a two-week extension of school closures through Friday, April 10, 2020. During the closure, the Governor and Superintendent Hoffman request that schools adhere to the following measures:
School administrators should make every effort to provide continued education learning opportunities through online resources or materials that can be sent home.
School administrators should work with the Arizona Department of Education to provide breakfast and lunch services for Arizona students.
As demand rises on health care professionals and first responders, schools should consider expanding child care programs currently available to ensure minimal disruption to these critical jobs as a result of the school closure.
When school resumes, school administrators should develop and implement precautions to ensure schools are a safe learning environment, including social distancing measures, regular intervals for administrators to wash and sanitize their hands, and guidance on how to properly and frequently sanitize election equipment and common surfaces.