Maryland Governor’s Effort To End Unemployment Benefits Blocked By Judge

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Alex Asgari Contributor
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A Baltimore judge has blocked Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan from ending federal unemployment benefits, citing public interest.

The preliminary injunction was issued Tuesday by Judge Lawrence P. Fletcher-Hill of the Circuit Court for Baltimore following multiple lawsuits against the governor after he announced in early June that he will end all federal unemployment benefits due to slow economic recovery and worker shortage.

“We have a critical problem where businesses across our state are trying to hire more people, but many are facing severe worker shortages,” Hogan said at the time.

In his ruling, the judge said that the plaintiffs “have shown that they will suffer irreparable harm” if the injunction was not issued and that it was in public interest for him to take action. The plaintiffs are Unite Here Workers 7, Public Justice Center and Maryland Unemployed Workers Union, according to The Washington Post.

The governor and state’s secretary of labor, Tiffany T. Robinson, “shall take all necessary steps” to refrain from taking action against the unemployment benefits, the ruling also reads.

“We are thrilled with the Court’s ruling, which the Governor’s office has decided not to contest. The Judge understood the arguments and understood that this was about what Maryland’s Unemployment Insurance law requires,” the plaintiffs said in a statement.

Multiple states, many of them Republican, have decided to end the federal enhanced unemployment benefits to incentivize people to go back to work following nationwide worker shortages. (RELATED: Jobless Claims Increase To 373,000, Above Economists’ Predictions)

The Biden administration has been opposed to states ending the benefits early but White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki recently stressed that they have have “every right to do so.”

The federal unemployment assistance consists of an additional $300 on top of state unemployment benefits, as well as assistance for self-employed and gig workers. The federal benefits are scheduled to expire September 6 in all fifty states, meaning the final ruling on the case might come well after the assistance is no longer available.

The governor’s office disagreed with the decision. “We fundamentally disagree with today’s decision. This lawsuit is hurting our small businesses, jeopardizing our economic recovery, and will cause significant job loss,” the office said in a statement provided to FOX 5. “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.”