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Employment agency fate uncertain

Gov. Haley Barbour said he will ask the Legislature to reauthorize the Mississippi Department of Employment Security during a special session next month.

Barbour said inaction during the special session, which also will address Medicaid funding, will harm the state’s unemployed, who rely on the department’s job centers to find work.

Barbour said Monday in a statement that the U.S. Labor Department has told him that failing to reinstate the program will cause residents to lose their unemployment benefits and the state to lose millions in federal grants.

Barbour said Mississippi businesses could lose more than $409 billion in federal unemployment tax credits.

“Obviously, this situation is completely unacceptable and must be corrected before June 30. It is absolutely essential that the Department of Employment Security be reauthorized so these important benefits to taxpayers and beneficiaries can continue,” Barbour said.

State agencies periodically come up for review, and the bill to reauthorize the Mississippi Department of Employment Security died amid a dispute over all state agencies’ advertising practices. Some lawmakers are upset that the state spends thousands of dollars to run ads on conservative talk radio stations.

Barbour has not yet announced the date of the special session.