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Calif. Assembly Passes Extended Jobless Benefits

The state Assembly has passed a bill to extend unemployment benefits in California, marking the first step in drawing billions of dollars from the federal stimulus package.

The bill was passed 76-0 Monday, and would extend unemployment benefits by 20 weeks. It now moves to the Senate.

Democratic Assemblyman Joe Coto of San Jose says the measure would allow California to qualify for up to $3 billion in federal money without a cost to the state.

Republicans initially rejected the bill last week over concerns it could require the state to pay for half of the extended benefits. They also argued they didn't have time to read it.

California is among 13 states with high unemployment rates that needs to change their laws to qualify for extended benefits.

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