Proposed unemployment benefit changes may affect recipients

South Carolina workers may have a tougher time getting jobless benefits in the near future.

A senate panel debated changes to the system on Wednesday. Anyone terminated from employment with cause would have to wait 20 days to get benefits, according to one proposal. Some lawmakers like Anderson County Senator Kevin Bryant of Anderson County said it will help stop people from taking advantage of the system.

"An employee from a hospital told a highway patrol officer if he were in that hospital, that officer would not receive quality of care. The hospital fired that employ and that employ drew benefits. If that is not misconduct, I don't know what is."

The panel also debated measures disqualifying workers in part-time and seasonal jobs from receiving some or no benefits, respectively. Sumter County Senator Phil Leventis said its only fair.

"Whether you are full-time or part time, your employer has to pay premiums. So if you work ten hours a week, your employer still has to pay it. But you get no benefit, he gets no benefit."

However, people relying on that money don't know why state leaders are trying to make things harder.

The two proposed changes that did not advance Wednesday included making people pass drug tests and doing community service to receive benefits. Those will go back to a sub committee review. The U.S. Labor Department opposes both measures.