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Judge Rules Maryland Enhanced Unemployment Benefits Can Continue Until September

A Judge in Maryland ruled this week that enhanced federal unemployment benefits can continue until September.

A judge issued a preliminary injunction ordering the state to ensure those qualifying for unemployment to keep getting enhanced federal benefits.

Maryland’s Republican Governor Larry Hogan and labor official wanted to opt-out of the state’s involvement in the federal program, an extra $300 a week in pandemic unemployment benefits.

Attorneys for the governor argued such benefits are keeping people out of the labor force

The judge wrote he thought state officials were making “very difficult decisions in all good faith,” pointing to testimony on additional costs to the state to administer the federal program — the $65 million price tag.

However, in Monday’s hearing, the total cost for the state in the final two months was presented and the judge wrote that the price “would be only a fraction of that.”

The Governor’s Office said while it fundamentally disagrees with the order, it will not fight the injunction as the case would outlive the benefits, which expire on Labor Day, September 6.

“We fundamentally disagree with today’s decision. This lawsuit is hurting our small businesses, jeopardizing our economic recovery, and will cause significant job loss. Most states have already ended enhanced benefits, and the White House and the US Department of Labor have affirmed that states have every right to do so. While we firmly believe the law is on our side, actual adjudication of the case would extend beyond the end of the federal programs, foregoing the possibility of pursuing the matter further.”

“This whole thing was political. They really didn’t have an economic leg to stand on and it was just an attack on working people,” said Alec Summerfield, Attorney for Unemployed Workers Union.

The legal maneuvers are not finished. Attorneys for that unemployed workers union plan to file a class-action suit next week on behalf of thousands of Marylanders that say they are still owed their money.

 

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