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Michigan Lawmakers Mull Unemployment Extension

Lawmakers are nearing a decision that would allow 35,000 jobless state residents to continue receiving extended federal unemployment benefits.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan lawmakers are nearing a decision that would allow 35,000 currently jobless state residents to continue receiving extended federal unemployment benefits.

But a bill approved Wednesday by a 24-13 vote in the Republican-led Senate also would reduce the length of time that people who become unemployed starting in 2012 could receive state-level benefits.

That move angered Democrats as the bill goes to the House.

The extended benefits come through a federal program that provides up to 20 weeks of payments to unemployed people who have exhausted state benefits. The benefits would expire for some Michigan residents in April unless the Legislature changes criteria for the program.

The change must be approved this week to take effect in time because the Legislature is scheduled to take a two-week recess after Thursday.

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