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Mass. Senate approves bill on unemployment aid

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The Massachusetts Senate has approved a bill that would make changes in the state’s unemployment insurance system that supporters say will lower costs for businesses.

The measure, which passed on a 33-4 vote Thursday, continues a freeze on unemployment insurance rates through 2017, introduces an updated rating table and expands the employer exemption given to seasonal businesses from 16 to 20 weeks.

Senate President Therese Murray said the bill will provide financial predictability, reward positive employment histories with lower costs and foster a healthy economy.

‘‘These reforms strike a careful balance between providing businesses with a helping hand without taking that same hand away from the unemployed,’’ said Murray, D-Plymouth.

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