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House votes to freeze unemployment insurance rates

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BOSTON (AP) — A one-year freeze on unemployment insurance rates for Massachusetts businesses is closer to passage in the Legislature.

The House on Tuesday unanimously approved the measure, which would be retroactive to Jan. 1. The Senate is expected to follow suit, marking the fourth consecutive year that rates have remained frozen.

Both branches had previously included a freeze as part of broader legislation calling for an overhaul of the state's unemployment insurance system, but disagreements and procedural disputes threatened to hold up passage of a bill. So lawmakers opted to strip out the freeze and vote on it separately.

Business groups, including the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, have warned that employers would otherwise be facing a $500 million rate increase and that Massachusetts would have the nation's highest unemployment insurance tax.

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