Bill to expand unemployment stalls in Alabama Senate

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Legislation to expand Alabama's unemployment compensation program with $100 million in federal funds has stalled in the Senate.

Democratic Senator Rodger Smitherman of Birmingham tried to get the Senate to debate his bill Thursday. The Senate voted 17-to-13 to begin debate, but that was one vote short of the 18 votes that were needed. The vote was largely along party lines, with Democrats voting for consideration and Republicans plus one Democrat voting against it.

Smitherman's bill would expand Alabama's unemployment compensation to take in 20,000 out-of-work citizens who don't get benefits now. The expansion would allow Alabama to qualify for $100
million in federal stimulus funds to pay the extra benefits.

Opponents say Alabama businesses would have to pay higher taxes to maintain the benefits once the stimulus funds run out.

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