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      Senate looks to overhaul unemployment agency

      The winds of change might be blowing through South Carolina's Employment Security Commission.

      Several state lawmakers are pushing to change the way South Carolina handles the unemployed.

      The Senate-approved bill will allow the Governor to pick who manages the jobless benefits agency. Some lawmakers think restructuring the agency is the only way to tackle the state's double-digit unemployment rate.

      The bill will allow a nine-member panel to recommend new agency director applicants. Those recommended would be reviewed by the sitting governor. The governor will then pick one applicant for final review, by the senate.

      The winds of change might be blowing through South Carolina's Employment Security Commission.

      "We're working long hours and in some cases seven days a week to try to pay those claims as quickly as we can," said ESC Spokesman Clark Newsom.

      But according to several state lawmakers, things aren't happening fast enough. Senator Greg Ryberg is one of nearly a dozen legislators, looking to overhaul the ESC. With unemployment about 12%, Ryberg says change is a must.

      "We don't have the luxury of waiting until some time in the future when everything is perfect to move forward with the restructuring," said Senator Ryberg. "I think this restructuring is appropriate and is coming exactly at the right time."

      Ryberg says giving legislatures power over who runs the workforce department offers more accountability.

      "This overhaul is absolutely essential," said Senator Ryberg. "In the last three years we've spent $170 million paying out benefits most people thought should never have been paid out."

      "They are confident that whatever changes they make will be for the best for this agency, for its mission and most of all for the people of South Carolina," said Newsom.

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