Democrats in Congress try to make it easier to start unions, Republicans in Iowa are on track to lower the state’s unemployment benefits and Illinois could go lighter on Big Tech when it comes to handling your private information.
All things we talked about this week on 4 The Record with Iowa Republican Party Chair Jeff Kaufmann and former AFSCME Local 46 President Gregg Johnson, a Democrat.
A bill opponents say would weaken the state’s biometric information privacy law cleared the Judiciary – Civil Committee last week.
Illinois has the toughest law in the country.
It’s designed to protect everyone’s individual data privacy from abuses by big technology companies.
We’re talking about things like facial recognition, fingerprints and other private data.
Essentially this would most likely lower the fines Big Tech has to pay for violations to actual damages.
Right now it’s the greater of actual damages or $1,000 for companies that act negligently and currently the greater of actual damages or $5,000 for intentional or reckless violations.
Individuals would no longer be able to take their claims to court.
It would be up to government agencies to enforce.
It was introduced by a Republican, but clearly has support from Democrats to move from committee.
This comes on the heels of Facebook reaching a settlement with Illinois in late February to pay $650 million to people across the state.
Johnson and Kaufmann discussed what red flags this raises and how concerned they think the people of Illinois should be.
Iowa’s state legislature is moving forward with proposals that would cut unemployment benefits.
It involves a change in the calculation of benefits.
Let’s take a look at that and some other provisions.
Anyone unemployed with four or more dependents would see their maximum benefits go from about $475 a week to $417 a week.
Anyone who files a claim would have to wait a week before getting unemployment insurance.
People who are on benefits would be forced to take a lower paying job than their last one if it pays at least 80 percent.
That’s within the first four weeks of unemployment.
After the eighth week the threshold drops to 60 percent.
Right now people who are unemployed have to take a job that pays at least 70 percent of their old job in their 18th week of being out of work.
Unemployment benefits would be limited to 26 weeks instead of the current 39 weeks if the place they worked for goes out of business.
Right now businesses in Iowa pay the second lowest rate possible for unemployment insurance.
If adopted, the changes would take effect in July 2022.
This while economic analysis has shown that for every dollar spent on unemployment benefits, it provides a $2 return to the economy.
Kaufmann and Johnson talked about why this is being addressed, especially now during the pandemic.
Democrats on capitol hill are trying to make the most of their majorities in the House and Senate.
The House of Representatives approved legislation this week that’s the most pro-labor reform in decades.
It would make it easier for workers to organize unions, as well as give them more power to strike for better pay and working conditions.
Passage in the Senate is no certainty with the 50-50 divide.
Unions have become weaker in recent decades with the possible exception of law enforcement and firefighters unions.
Johnson and Kaufmann shared how much they think this would change the playing field for workers and companies.
Watch the full discussion in the video above.
Question of the week
Local 4 News, your local election headquarters, is proud to present 4 The Record, a weekly news and public affairs program focused on the issues important to you. It’s a program unlike any other here in the Quad Cities. Tune in each Sunday at 10:30 a.m. as Jim Niedelman brings you up to speed on what’s happening in the political arena, from Springfield, Des Moines, Washington, D.C. and right here at home.