A Baltimore Circuit Court judge on Saturday blocked the state from ending its participation in several pandemic-related unemployment programs, including the $300-per-week unemployment checks that Republicans say are keeping people out of work.
Maryland would have ended its participation in the programs on Saturday if not for the judge’s ruling.
Gov. Larry Hogan is one of more than two dozen Republican governors who moved to end participation in those programs earlier than they are set to expire.
Democrats decried the move, saying that many Marylanders still depend on the benefits. Hogan’s administration said the federal benefits are keeping Marylanders on the sidelines and slowing down the economic recovery by creating a labor shortage.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit argued that ending the program early would cut off funds from 300,000 people who badly need it.
Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Fletcher-Hill sided with the plaintiffs in a ruling on Saturday.
“Plaintiffs have shown in their affidavits with varying degrees of severity that the immediate loss of benefits, when some of them already are in vulnerable financial condition, likely will lead to loss of housing, short-term diversion of effort to less valuable employment, and/or significant emotional consequences,” the judge wrote, according to Delmarva Now.
“These non-monetary effects would never be compensated and therefore add to the threat of irreparable harm.”
Fletcher-Hill issued a temporary block, which will keep Maryland from ending the program for 10 days as the case is argued in court.
An Indiana judge issued a similar ruling last week.
Hogan’s office said that the state would appeal the ruling.
“There is a record number of jobs available right now, and this program is making it harder to fill them and fully reopen our businesses,” Michael Ricci, Hogan’s director of communications, told Delmarva Now. “It’s hurting our recovery across every region and industry.”
The plaintiffs argued that people who are out of work would risk evictions and car repossessions if the benefits were terminated.
“This sudden severance of two months of additional unemployment is a detriment to the livelihood, health, and stability of all individuals currently receiving the federal aid, many of whom are actively seeking employment,” the plaintiffs said in one of the complaints, according to Delmarva Now.