Supreme Court weighs $300 at end of weekly unemployment payments
Columbus, Ohio (AP) – In June 2021, Governor Mike DeWine ended Ohio’s engagement in the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Aid Program before the government’s deadline to stop payments.
Lawyers for the Republican governor say he has the legal authority to do so. People who lost out on extra benefits say DeWine didn’t, and should have continued.
The Ohio Supreme Court heard arguments from both sides on Wednesday. An unexpected decision for weeks.
In a case before the court It is a weekly federal payment of $300 to Ohio citizens to offset the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The federal government ended that program on September 6, but DeWine suspended the payments on June 26, 2021, saying the need for the payments had ended.
DeWine followed up on the position of business groups that said the payments make it difficult to hire employees, and he wasn’t alone. More than twenty other statesLed by Republican governors and legislatures, they began blocking payments around the same time.
Several courts have also supported early termination of payments. In August 2021, an Indiana court upheld Governor Eric Holcomb’s decision Withdrawing from the program, saying that the federal pandemic unemployment programs were intended to be temporary and different from the unemployment benefits system already in place. However, the payments continued because the decision came too close to the September 6 deadline to give recipients required notice.
In October 2021, the South Carolina Supreme Court similarly dismissed a lawsuit against Governor Henry McMaster About his early exit from the federal unemployment pandemic programs.
Critics of ending payments in Ohio and elsewhere have said workers have reasons not to return to their jobs.
Ending the program early halted about $900 million in Ohio payments. The two sides disagree on whether the money could be paid, if the court rules against DeWine.
The governor acted after hearing from companies that said they were unable to fill thousands of positions, Ohio’s deputy principal attorney Michael Hendershott told judges Wednesday.
“He believed that, in general, on the basis of the macroeconomic balance of the state, for the future of those companies, he had to take it,” Hendershott said.
And just because the government funneled pandemic dollars through Ohio didn’t necessarily make them available, he added.
An attorney representing Ohio unemployed people seeking benefits disputed, saying the governor is required by state law to secure “all available benefits” related to unemployment compensation. Attorney Mark Dunn said this requirement makes Ohio’s situation different from other states where the termination has been upheld.
Dunn, the former Democratic attorney general of Ohio, said DeWine was authorized to accept benefits, “but he was not empowered to make the policy decision to remove them.”
Judge Patrick Fisher questioned whether the case was up for debate several months later, noting that the governor did not have the money, and it was unclear whether the US Department of Labor had it either.
Dan agreed that the governor didn’t have the money, but he still had to save it.
“He acted without the constitutional and legal authority to refuse that money,” Dunn said. “As a result, those workers’ entitlement to that money remains, whether or not it is funded by the federal government.”
Republican Justice Patrick DeWine, the governor’s son, has stepped aside to avoid appearing inappropriate “that might result from my father’s public interference in this case.”
In an unrelated epidemiological case, judges heard arguments Wednesday in the case of season-crossing holders of theme parks operated by Sandusky-based Cedar Fair who say they are due for refunds after the parks closed early in 2020 due to the coronavirus.