- Federal unemployment benefits will continue to be paid in Maryland after a judge ruled against Governor Larry Hogan.
- Maryland was set to end the pandemic unemployment aid Saturday evening, which includes $300 weekly payments.
- Governor Hogan has indicated that he will immediately appeal the decision.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Maryland will continue to pay federal unemployment benefits for at least ten more days after a judge ruled against Governor Larry Hogan on Saturday.
The benefits were set to end this weekend, but Circuit Judge Lawrence Fletcher-Hill issued a temporary restraining order requiring Maryland to continue administering the benefits, The Baltimore Sun first reported. The temporary restraining order followed two lawsuits brought by unemployed Marylanders against Governor Hogan and Maryland Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson.
The restraining order is set to expire in ten days, which will give the courts enough time to schedule a hearing on the merits of the lawsuits. Fletcher-Hill’s ruling means tens of thousands of unemployed workers in Maryland will continue to receive the benefits, which include a $300 weekly benefit paid by the federal government.
The coronavirus pandemic-related unemployment benefits also cover self-employed workers. As of mid-June, 178,000 people in Maryland were recipients of unemployment benefits.
Hogan is one of more than 20 Republican governors who have moved to cut federal unemployment benefits early. The governors argue that the federal unemployment benefits on top of state unemployment benefits have slowed down the jobs recovery, with fewer people seeking work because of the extra money. The governors often point to anecdotal evidence of local businesses, especially restaurants, being unable to fill open positions. The federal unemployment payments are set to expire in September.
Hogan said the ruling by Fletcher-Hill would be “immediately appealed.”
“We’re going to file an appeal today. I haven’t read the details of the ruling but I have no idea how [Fletcher-Hill] could come up with that,” Hogan said at an Independence Day march in Annapolis, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Judge Fletcher-Hill wrote in a 14-page ruling that the plaintiffs of the lawsuit would be “irreparably harmed” if the unemployment benefits ended, and that they might be able to prove that Maryland is required to maximize the use of federal assistance programs under state law.
“As one who has enjoyed the privilege of continuous, secure employment, the Court is particularly struck by the plight of those who have had to struggle with irregular or no employment,” Judge Fletcher-Hill wrote in his opinion.
But according to Hogan, the extra $300 in federal unemployment benefits are keeping people from getting back to work.
“Thousands of businesses have no ability to get people back to work. We’ve got more jobs available than ever before in the history of the state,” Hogan said, according to The Baltimore Sun. “People that really need the help are still going to get unemployment benefits. It’s the extended bonus $300 that’s keeping people home.”