Thanks to a state Supreme Court ruling, thousands of Missourians will receive jobless benefits which were previously taken away.

The Missouri Supreme Court

The Missouri Supreme Court

In a 4-3 ruling, the justices said the state Senate improperly overrode Governor Nixon’s veto of a law which reduced the time limit for unemployment benefits from 20-to-13 weeks.

The court said the override during last September’s veto session, took place too late because that period’s reserved for bills rejected by the governor in the final week of the legislative session, and the veto of the jobless bill occurred earlier.

Attorney Michael Evans, who represents unemployed workers, thinks the court made to proper decision.  “This is a matter of it’s a rules of the road case” said Evans.  “Everybody’s got to follow the rules – the governor and the legislature.  The point of these rules is to prevent gamesmanship, log rolling and horse trading, and things like that that are not productive legislative actions.”

Critics of the ruling think the court overstepped its authority and improperly limited the legislature’s powers.  Division among the justices was reflected in their tight decision.

Evans contends the law as it stood was unfair to people living in communities with high unemployment where there’s a scarcity of jobs.  “We don’t believe that the law was just for a lot of reasons.  There’s a lot of unemployed people out there.  There’s a lot of people in small communities that are going to be disproportionately affected.”

According to the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, 9,932 people had their unemployment exhausted at 13 weeks because of the law.  The legislation also affected the severance pay of 3,877 people.

All people impacted by the law will be reimbursed.  Evans thinks the Department of Labor is now developing a procedure for those affected to retroactively apply for benefits.