Maryland is paying its jobless residents pandemic unemployment benefits — including the $300 federal supplement — for another 10 days after the state lost several court battles to end the programs on Saturday.
Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, announced last month that he was terminating the three pandemic benefits measures on July 3 in order to spur more people to return to the workforce. But unemployed residents, who filed two lawsuits seeking to stop Hogan’s move, won a short-term reprieve when a state judge on Saturday issued a temporary restraining order and state’s chief judge on Monday denied the governor’s appeal.
More than 300,000 Maryland residents are in at least one of the programs, and some 85% of them will lose all their support when payments end, according to a lawyer for the jobless.
“Yes, we have complied with the judge’s order and extended the programs an additional 10 days,” Hogan spokesman Mike Ricci told CNN on Tuesday, adding that the state’s economic revival is being threatened by the inability for small businesses to find workers. “We are confident the courts will ultimately rule in favor of our fight to get more Marylanders back to work.”
“The White House and the US Secretary of Labor agree that governors can discontinue enhanced unemployment benefits, and most already have,” he added.
The situation is starkly different than in Indiana, where benefits ended on June 19 and have yet to resume, despite a state judge’s ruling last month blocking GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb’s termination of the payments to roughly 230,000 Hoosiers while a lawsuit works its way through the court system.
“DWD is determining how to proceed because the federal programs no longer exist after their termination on June 19,” the Indiana Department of Workforce Development said in a statement. “There is no action that a claimant needs to take right now. If a claimant needs to take action, the claimant will be notified via Uplink.”
In both states, the jobless are arguing that state law requires officials to obtain all federal unemployment compensation available for residents.
They are among the 26 states that are terminating early at least one of the three pandemic unemployment insurance programs that Congress enacted in March 2020 and extended twice to support people during the coronavirus-fueled economic downturn. All but one state is run by a Republican governor.
In addition to the $300 weekly supplement, the federal programs provide benefits to freelancers, the self-employed, independent contractors and certain people affected by the coronavirus and to those who have exhausted their regular state benefits.
Some 4.1 million Americans will be affected, according to The Century Foundation.
Citing workforce shortages, the governors argue the expanded benefits are keeping the unemployed from accepting job offers — though there is not much evidence showing that more people are rejoining the labor market after their benefits stop.
The three pandemic unemployment programs are scheduled to expire in early September in the states that are continuing them, under a provision contained in the Democrats’ $1.9 trillion relief package that President Joe Biden signed into law in March.
The jobless in Texas have also filed a lawsuit against GOP Gov. Greg Abbott for ending the benefits on June 26, arguing he doesn’t have the authority to do so.
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