ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A measure that has won initial backing of Minnesota House and Senate lawmakers would ensure that Iron Range taconite workers are eligible for unemployment benefits when several plants are idled in coming months.

Identical language added to budget bills expected to pass Wednesday would remove obstacles for those workers to get assistance. The clause covers iron ore workers in Itasca, St. Louis and Lake counties who are laid off between March 1 and December 31.

A glut of steel on the market has led U.S. producers to slow down or stop production at some plants, sidelining hundreds of workers. Because those layoffs are deemed temporary, some workers would have had to spend down their vacation or meet other qualifications to get benefits.

The provision embraced by lawmakers waives those standards.