Ruling Expected Soon In Suit Over $300 Weekly Unemployment Checks
A Franklin County judge is expected to rule in the coming days on a lawsuit that seeks to restore the $300 weekly checks that the federal government was providing to unemployed people through September. Ohio became one of 26 states that ended the program last month.
Democratic former attorney general Marc Dann filed the lawsuit over the federal pandemic unemployment assistance (FPUC) program, arguing lawmakers didn’t give Gov. Mike DeWine the authority to refuse the maximum benefits offered by the feds.
“The legislature intentionally withheld that authority because they thought the receipt of unemployment benefits under federal programs was so important that, frankly, they didn't want to make a political football out of it, which is exactly what this has become," said Dann.
The 26 states that are ending the FPUC program early are mostly Republican-run states.
Dann compared the FPUC program to tax breaks and other financial assistance to companies, saying as the latter helps spark economic growth, the federal money to jobless workers will go straight into the economy as well.
Dann said more than 200,000 Ohioans could have weekly payments restored if he wins. And he said he's received phone calls and emails from some of them as he prepared the suit.
“People who are older, people who have unique job skills, people who are have health problems that don't allow them to get vaccinated," Dann said. "So there's a whole kind of a list of pandemic related reasons why certain people are just not able to get back in the workforce as quickly as perhaps the Ohio Restaurant Association would like them to.”
DeWine ended the program June 26, pushed by the Chamber of Commerce and the Ohio Restaurant Association, who said it was making it hard for businesses to find workers.
Chamber President and CEO Steve Stivers released a statement that reads in part:
“The lawsuit filed by Ohio’s former Attorney General Marc Dann’s law firm that could rebuke the Governor’s decision threatens our state’s economic recovery and will make it harder for businesses to fill open positions. The Ohio Chamber’s amicus brief highlights how businesses and the economy will be harmed by a judicial edict overturning a policy decision of Ohio’s Chief Executive.”
The state’s attorneys say Dann’s reading of the law is wrong.
After a hearing Friday, the judge said he expected to have a decision by the middle of this week.
Similar lawsuits to restore the program have been filed in Maryland, Indiana and Texas.