May 28, 2020
The Honorable Ron DeSantis Governor, State of Florida Office of the Governor The Capitol Tallahassee, FL 32399
Dear Governor DeSantis:
On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of constituents we represent in Central Florida, many of them both without jobs and still awaiting promised unemployment benefits, we are writing to request that you extend by one month the unemployment work search requirement waiver set to expire on Saturday.
As you acknowledged when first implementing the waiver, jobs are not readily available thanks to the economic ravages brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the shutdown of not only small businesses, but large employers. With Florida’s overall unemployment rate at 12.9% and rising, Central Florida has been especially hard-hit, with a vast majority of jobs dependent on a tourism-based economy that essentially ceased operations as the virus and fear of contracting the disease spread both at home and abroad.
Section 4102(b) of the federal 2020 Emergency Unemployment Insurance Stability and Access Act (EUISAA) allows states to modify or suspend the work search requirement on an emergency temporary basis in response to the spread of COVID-19. According to your administration’s own numbers, while the number of infections may be slowing, the spread of this disease is still far from contained, and the tourism industry, among others, has yet to rebound. The conditions which existed at the time you enacted the waiver are no less urgent today.
While we inch toward Florida’s full reopening, many individuals and employers are still reluctant to abandon caution, and the lack of an abundance of job opportunities reflects that hesitation. We urge you to continue to suspend the unemployment work search requirements as our economy struggles to recover.
Senator Linda Stewart