(stock photo)

By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer
Report for America Corps Member
msayles@afro.com

Baltimore Circuit Judge Lawrence Fletcher-Hill issued a temporary restraining order, July 3, to stop Governor Hogan’s decision to terminate unemployment benefits. 

The ruling took place just hours before the state of Maryland planned to officially pull the plug on the payments a full two months before the federal funds were meant to be discontinued. 

“This is a big win for Maryland working families whose lives were about to get a lot harder because of Governor Hogan. Larry Hogan’s decision to prematurely cut off pandemic unemployment assistance while many Marylanders are still struggling to find work and child care was cruel, unnecessary, and blatantly political,” said Maryland Democrats.  “It’s unfortunate Larry Hogan doesn’t seem to care how many people in our state he hurts just to advance his own political career. Thankfully, today’s decision means struggling Marylanders will for now continue to receive the relief they need in spite of the Governor’s efforts”

The unemployment benefits include an extra $300 weekly with expanded eligibility to those who are self-employed, work part time or do not typically qualify for unemployment because of insufficient work history. According to the Maryland Department of Labor, the number of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment claims totaled 41,187 during the week ending May 2, 2020. As of its most recent data, during the week of June 26, the new claims for these programs amounted to 3,573. 

“As our state works to recover and rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic, many Marylanders are still grappling with its devastating impacts. The Governor’s decision to abruptly cut off unemployment benefits put many struggling families at risk of financial ruin. Not only did it thrust thousands of Maryland families into unnecessary uncertainty, it would also reduce the strength of our economic recovery by needlessly forfeiting over a billion dollars in federal resources that would have been spent purchasing goods and services at Maryland businesses,” said Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen. 

The temporary restraining order expires after 10 days, but the state of Maryland has now appealed the ruling at the Maryland Court of Appeals. The two lawsuits, organized by the Public Justice Center and the Unemployed Workers Union, are expected to schedule hearings to permanently overturn Hogan’s decision. 

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