Lawsuit challenges Maryland governor’s decision to end federal unemployment benefits

Out-of-work residents have filed a lawsuit to try to stop Maryland’s decision to end the enhanced federal unemployment benefits.

Gov. Larry Hogan said earlier this month that he will join two dozen other Republican-led states that will end the $300 supplemental weekly payment that unemployed residents have been receiving under the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program on July 3, Maryland Matters reported.

The Unemployed Workers Union, led by the Peoples Power Assembly, filed a class-action lawsuit against Hogan and Maryland Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson.

“Our position is that this order is illegal. And a threat to the public welfare,” the union’s lawyer Alex Summerfield said during a news conference in Baltimore Thursday.

The lawsuit also wants to get benefits for those who have filed unemployment since March 2020 but who have not received any or all of them.

“This is the workers’ money. They pay in unemployment through taxes,” Summerfield said, adding that people need it more than ever during the pandemic and economic crisis.

Democratic lawmakers in the state urged Hogan to reconsider. In announcing his decision, Hogan referred to the improving economy and the surge in vaccines; and he said that employers are having difficulty finding workers, Maryland Matters reported.

Maryland’s May unemployment rate was 6.1%, down from 6.2% in April and 9% from a year earlier. The state ended May with 236,700 more jobs than a year earlier.

The $300 supplemental weekly payment is part of President Joe Biden’s sweeping $1.9 trillion COVID-19 rescue package signed in March, which extends the benefit through Sept. 6.

In May, Republican lawmakers said that it was time to end the enhancement to push more people to return to work; but Biden and Democratic leaders said there was little evidence that expanded benefits are keeping people from working, CNN reported.

A spokesman for Hogan told The Washington Post that the governor does not intend to change his decision.

WTOP has reached out to Hogan’s office for a statement on the lawsuit.

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Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

This article was written by WTOP’s news partners at Maryland Matters and republished with permission. Sign up for Maryland Matters’ free email subscription today.

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