Plans to extend jobless benefits are sailing through the House and Senate in Salem. Yesterday the Senate approved two bills to extend federal and state unemployment benefits. KBND talked to local lawmakers; Senator Chris Telfer, and Representative Gene Whisnant about the bills: Telfer: “Deschutes County has one of the highest unemployment rates in the State, continues to have one of the highest unemployment rates. We’ve got some people there that need some help. And we don’t see a whole lot of economic development going on and creation of jobs. So, we need to help those people in Central Oregon. But at the same time, we’re extending those benefits, which will, unfortunately cost the employers a few extra dollars, we want to revise the unemployment system. We want t improve it. We know we have employers that are having trouble getting employees because people don’t want to go off unemployment.” Gene Whisnant: “as a member of the Joint Ways and Means Committee, I have already voted for both bills last week, to extend unemployment benefits. I put on the record of Ways and Means, the hearing, I’m concerned about the additional burden on the State revenue of about $30-million that this imposes. But there’s no way I can tell these people, especially in my District, that are unemployed that we can’t continue to help them until we get this State business straightened out and try to get more people working.” Lawmakers say the move will help about 50,000 people in Oregon.