The Superior Court weighs the end of $300 weekly unemployment payment.
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In June 2021, Gov. Mike DeWine ended Ohio’s participation in the federal pandemic unemployment assistance program, this, before the deadline to stop such payments.
His lawyers have argued that he had the legal authority to do that; but, people who have lost additional benefits claim he should have continued them.
The Ohio Supreme Court heard arguments from both sides Wednesday. A decision is expected within weeks.
At issue before the court is the $300 weekly federal payment for those Ohioans who need to offset the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The federal government terminated that program on Sept. 6, but DeWine stopped it on June 26, 2021, and asserted that the need for the payments had ceased.
DeWine has followed the position of business groups that claimed the payments made it difficult to hire workers, and more than two dozen other states, led by Republican governors and lawmakers, also began blocking such payments at about the same time.
Multiple courts upheld the early termination of the payments. In August 2021, the Indiana court upheld Gov. Eric Holcomb’s decision to withdraw, saying the federal pandemic unemployment programs were temporary and differed from the unemployment benefits system already in place. But, the payments continued because his decision came close to the Sept. 6 deadline for giving notice to recipients.
In October 2021, the South Carolina Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit against Gov. Henry McMaster for getting out of federal unemployment pandemic programs early.
Critics in Ohio and elsewhere asserted that workers could have real compelling reasons that would prevent them from returning to their jobs.
The early termination of the program halted approximately $900 million in Ohio payments. The two sides are in disagreement over whether the money could still be paid, if the court rules against DeWine.
The governor acted after he heard companies say they could not fill thousands of jobs.