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Thousands still waiting for Ohio Supreme Court ruling on unemployment stimulus checks

The bench of the Ohio Supreme Court
Daniel Konik
/
Statehouse News Bureau

It’s been more than four months since the Ohio Supreme Court heard arguments over whether Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, had the authority to cut off $300, weekly pandemic assistance checks to unemployed Ohioans before the federal program that funded them ended.

The program still had two months left when DeWine cut off the checks.

While hundreds of thousands of Ohioans are waiting, it’s not unusual for the court to take several months to decide a case.

In May, the Ohio Supreme Court heard the case. The Ohio Attorney General’s office said businesses that were having trouble hiring asked DeWine to stop the checks, which were funded with COVID-19 relief money from the federal CARES Act.

Former attorney general Marc Dann represented those who had gotten the checks, and said the constitution gives the legislature the power to make decisions about unemployment payments, not the governor, so he didn't have the authority to cut off the checks.

The Ohio Supreme Court put out a series of quick decisions earlier this year on House and Senate district maps approved by the Ohio Redistricting Commission. The first set of maps were approved in September, and groups including the League of Women Voters filing three lawsuits.

Arguments were heard by the court in December, and a decision that the maps were unconstitutionally gerrymandered was handed down in January. For the next four months, the cycle repeated — maps were approved by Republicans on the redistricting panel, opponents sued and the court ruled against the maps.

State officials had hoped to hold the primary for the House and Senate as usual in May. But after a lawsuit was filed in federal court, it was rescheduled to August, at an additional cost of $20 million. And even then, the maps used had been ruled unconstitutional.

But other cases can take much longer, especially when there are oral arguments.

Earlier this year, the court ruled unanimously that the state can withhold money from cities that use traffic cameras almost three months to the day after the case was argued.

And it took five months after arguments for the court to rule last year that the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, once the state’s largest online charter school, still owed money to the state over kids it didn’t educate.

A court spokesperson said there are many factors involved in decisions, orders and opinions, so there is no specific timeline on when to expect a ruling.

Dann said the case affects some 300,000 Ohioans who were or are jobless, and the checks total around $900 million federal dollars.

Contact Karen at 614-578-6375 or at kkasler@statehousenews.org.
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