MD’s Planned Fed Unemployment Cutoff Faces Lawsuits, Uncertainty

Governor Hogan’s decision to stop Maryland’s participation in federal supplements to unemployment benefits faces lawsuits to stop his decision, with the planned cutoff date fast approaching.

Last month, Governor Hogan announced his intention to suspend Marylanders’ receipt of federally-supported unemployment benefit add-on payments – citing concerns that the additional payments contributed to employers’ difficulty in hiring and re-hiring. That decision has come under fire, with employee groups filing suit to compel the State to continue participation in the program through its planned end later this year.

From June 1, see earlier Conduit Street coverage: Maryland to End Enhanced Federal Unemployment Benefits

The Baltimore Sun wrote today about efforts to accelerate the legal challenges, and the urgency to do so to avoid disruption in recipient benefit levels:

With the clock ticking on federal unemployment benefits in Maryland, lawyers for jobless residents were working Thursday evening to get a judge to review two lawsuits that seek to force the state to continue the payments.

Both cases were brought by unemployed Marylanders and center on Gov. Larry Hogan’s decision to end federal pandemic benefits. The state plans to end the programs Saturday.

Attorneys with the Public Justice Center and the Unemployed Workers Union, which organized the separate lawsuits, scrambled Thursday to get a last-minute hearing scheduled in Baltimore Circuit Court before the state stops paying the benefits.

A rapid decision appears likely, as the State has set next week as the cutoff date for its decision.

A comparable lawsuit in Indiana yielded a decision in that state to enjoin its Governor’s similar decision to terminate the added benefits – a matter that remains unsettled in its courts, based on the laws of that state. From The Hill:

Marion Superior Court Judge John Hanley ruled Friday that Indiana must continue the expanded payments until a lawsuit on the matter is settled, CBS News reported. In his ruling, Hanley pointed to “a preponderance of evidence” that suggests cutting off payments could violate state law as well as cause hardship.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties