Blog Posts > Without Congressional Action, Thousands of Unemployed West Virginians Could Exhaust Jobless Benefits This Year
August 28, 2020

Without Congressional Action, Thousands of Unemployed West Virginians Could Exhaust Jobless Benefits This Year

Last month, Congress allowed the CARES Act’s $600 boost to weekly unemployment benefits to expire. It was replaced with a temporary and inadequate executive order providing funding for enhanced benefits that West Virginia has applied for but has yet to receive. And now, another unemployment provision of the CARES Act is about to run out for thousands of West Virginians: the number of weeks of unemployment benefits available to workers who have lost their jobs.

In West Virginia, workers receiving regular state unemployment benefits are eligible for up to 26 weeks of benefits. Under the CARES Act, the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program adds 13 weeks to the maximum number of weeks of jobless benefits for regular unemployment insurance (UI) beneficiaries, bringing the maximum number of weeks up to 39. Workers eligible for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program created by the CARES Act, which provides UI benefits for many workers not covered by regular UI, including the self-employed, independent contractors, and gig economy workers, are also eligible for 39 weeks of benefits.

Both of these programs, however, expire at the end of December. Even with these provisions, a large number of workers will start to exhaust their benefits before the end of the year – with many more exhausting early next year – if the next relief package does not increase the total number of weeks of benefits available and extend PEUC and PUA into 2021.

Read Sean’s full blog post.

West Virginians’ Health Care Threatened as ACA Lawsuit Reaches the Supreme Court

Despite the importance of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid expansion in providing health coverage in the midst of a pandemic, proponents of the lawsuit to dismantle the ACA, including Republican state Attorneys General and the Trump administration, march on. Oral arguments are scheduled for November 10 in front of the Supreme Court of the United States, with a decision expected in the spring of 2021. If the lawsuit is successful, 20 million Americans, including over 160,000 West Virginians, will lose their health coverage altogether and hundreds of thousands more will be impacted by other provisions of the Affordable Care Act falling.

Read Kelly’s full blog post.

Coal Communities Continue to Face Challenges and Uncertainty

Energy News Network’s “Transition in Coal Country” series “examines how the declining coal industry presents immediate and long-term changes for coal communities in Wyoming and Appalachia, how those communities are coping with change, and what they might learn from each other in charting a path to a sustainable future beyond coal.”

The newest piece from the series dives deep into the uncertainty of the future of coal communities.

Our senior policy analyst Sean O’Leary is quoted saying:

“None of the promises that coal was coming back happened. There’s no turnaround. This is a structural decline.”

Read the full piece here.

Find the previous segments of the series here.

West Virginia Cares: Health Care For All 2020 Virtual Summit

Are you tired of struggling — or watching friends and family struggle — to get lifesaving health care? Do you think health care is a human right? Do you agree that West Virginians deserve better? We do and we need your help!

We’ll be co-hosting this summit along with our friends at Health Care for All WVWest Virginians for Affordable Health Care, and West Virginia Citizen Action Education Fund

Please join us to hear from expert panelists; learn about the Health for All campaign, our three big victories so far this year, and the changes we believe we can win together in 2021; and tell us how you think we can improve.

You can register here. We value your input and would love to see you there!

2020 Summit on Race Matters in West Virginia

This summit seeks to “discuss race in a comprehensive, collaborative, and compassionate manner designed to build the Beloved Community in West Virginia.” It kicked off to an incredible start earlier this month, and we encourage you to keep engaging in this conversation and join us for the September session, which focuses on criminal justice and features keynote speaker Nikole Hannah-Jones. Hannah-Jones is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter covering racial injustice for the New York Times Magazine and the creator of the landmark 1619 Project.

This free event will take place on September 10 at 4pm ET. Register here.

Don’t Forget to Complete the 2020 Census!

As a result of the Trump administration’s decision to cut the collection of 2020 census data short, the self-response deadline to complete the census in West Virginia is now September 30. 

From reduced FMAP and CRF funding to lost congressional seats and business opportunities, an incomplete and inaccurate census will have a harmful impact on our state.

A recent article dove into just how damaging this impact will be: 
“…unless the deadline for the census is extended, West Virginia stands to lose millions of dollars in federal funding every year until the 2030 census is complete.”

As of August 4, the national census response rate was 62.9% and the response rate in West Virginia was only 54.6%. 

If you have not done so already, please make sure that you and those in your household are included. Each person accounted for means more funding for much-needed public services!

You can complete the census online here.

Urgent Need to Increase Maximum SNAP Benefits

The Senate-proposed HEALS Act and Trump’s executive orders fail to include the much-needed 15 percent increase in the maximum SNAP benefit for all households. As Congress resumes negotiations for the next federal package, it is imperative that policymakers include this essential boost to SNAP.

The number of people struggling to put food on the table has increased dramatically as a result of the pandemic and recession, particularly in households with children.

SNAP is America’s most successful anti-hunger program. It has proven to be one of the most effective mechanisms available both to reach low-income households and to provide counter-cyclical help in recessions. The modest boost described above would help millions of American families, resulting in about $25 more per person per month.

Watch the video below to learn more about why SNAP matters now more than ever.

SNAP Matters - Now More Than Ever: Boosting SNAP Benefits

Petition to Tell Senators to Support the Revitalization of Coalfield Communities through the RECLAIM Act

West Virginia’s coal-impacted communities have been heavily burdened with economic, environmental, and public health problems as a result of the mining industry. The RECLAIM Act would release $1.6 billion from the Abandoned Mine Lands Fund to jumpstart the reclamation of mine land abandoned before 1976. In West Virginia, the RECLAIM Act would make available approximately $200 million over five years to support reclamation projects that would work to clean up our communities.

Urge your senators to pass the RECLAIM Act here.

Petition to Tell Senators Manchin and Capito to Protect Critical Health Care, Jobs, and Public Services

The President’s recent executive actions leave out too many critical needs faced by West Virginia’s public servants. The actions don’t protect public service jobs and they don’t address the crisis that parents are facing by failing to include funding to safely reopen school and child care centers. 

Only Congress can enact a package that meets the needs of public employees and the infrastructure that makes our cities, states and country run effectively. 

Tell Senators Capito and Manchin to urge their Congressional colleagues to take action now.

Sign the petition here.

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