On the second day of the legislative session, the House Finance Committee voted along party lines to advance a bill that will sharply curb the amount of unemployment benefits .
Rep. Julia Howard , senior chair of the committee, said fast-tracking the bill was necessary to repay a $2.5 billion debt to the federal government sooner, making it easier to recruit new businesses.
Nash County Republican Rep. Jeff Collins  told his colleagues that the duration of North Carolina’s unemployment compensation was hindering the state’s economic recovery:
“I consistently hear employers tell me, and have since I ran for office in 2010, that the biggest competition they have for getting employees, for hiring employees they want to hire, is not other competitors in their business, but the unemployment check,” said Collins.
Fellow Democratic Rep. Kelly Alexander  suggested Republicans who thought the current jobless benefits were so generous as to encourage the unemployed to move to North Carolina or turn down work were likely “smoking my medical cannabis bill .”
Republicans used their majority on the committee to pass House Bill 4 , which will be heard on the House floor Monday evening.
To hear a portion of Thursday’s debate, click below. The full finance committee meeting can be heard on WRAL.com .