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Bill That Could Help The Unemployed Start Businesses Clears First Hurdle

Aired 3/20/13 on KPBS News.

A bill that could help some unemployed Californians start their own businesses has cleared its first hurdle in the state legislature. As Marianne Russ reports from Sacramento, an Assembly committee approved the measure Wednesday.

A bill that could make it easier for unemployed Californians to start their own businesses has been approved by a state Assembly committee.

Democratic Assemblymember Mariko Yamada wrote the measure. She said it would allow some people receiving unemployment benefits to focus on starting a business instead of applying for jobs.

“We want to prevent people who have an entrepreneurial spirit from being deflated by going out to look for jobs that don’t exist, but instead use their unemployment benefits to support themselves while they are creating a new business,” said Yamada.

Currently someone receiving unemployment benefits must prove they’re searching for a job. Under the bill, a person could instead show evidence of starting a business. Yamada said the new program would be funded by a $5 million federal grant and would benefit about 12,000 people.

The California Chamber of Commerce opposes the bill. The group argued the program could end up costing the state money, and said the requirements for seeking self-employment aren’t well defined.

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