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Indiana delays unemployment benefits despite judge's ruling

Indiana’s Department of Workforce Development said Wednesday that it still hasn’t decided how to continue payment of federal unemployment benefits, more than a week after a judge ruled that the state must restart the extra $300 weekly payments to unemployed workers.

Posted: Jul 8, 2021 2:52 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s Department of Workforce Development said Wednesday that it still hasn’t decided how to continue payment of federal unemployment benefits, more than a week after a judge ruled that the state must restart the extra $300 weekly payments to unemployed workers.

An agency spokesperson declined to comment on if or when the state plans to rejoin the programs that expanded unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. It could still be nearly three weeks before a judge rules on Gov. Eric Holcomb's appeal to drop Indiana from the national programs before they’re scheduled to end on Sept. 6.

Attorneys for the state maintain Indiana can’t continue paying out the benefits because the state has already ended its agreement with the federal government to administer the federal programs.

Entering into a new agreement would require the workforce development office to expend extra time and resources to “rework its information technology system," according to court documents. The state also argued that Indiana would not have time to withdraw from the federal programs again should the appeals court rule in the state's favor.

Indiana’s Department of Workforce Development notified the labor department of the injunction and “requested guidance” on June 28, according to court filings, although the state agency has not confirmed whether it’s entered into a new agreement with the labor department.

A spokesperson for the Department of Labor told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the federal government will accept states back into the programs after they’ve terminated the benefits, noting that the agency is working with Indiana officials to make technical or other changes needed to comply with the court orders.

Holcomb announced in May that Indiana would reinstate a requirement that those receiving unemployment benefits will again have to show they are actively searching for work as of June 1 and that the state would leave the federal programs effective June 19.

Indiana also ended its participation in a federal program that made gig workers and the self-employed eligible for assistance for the first time and another that provides extra weeks of aid.

The state is one of 27 that are terminating early at least one of the three pandemic unemployment insurance programs that Congress enacted in March 2020 to support workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

In Maryland, a judge issued a temporary restraining order Saturday morning — just hours before the benefits were set to expire — ordering that the governor can’t remove the state from the programs. Echoing the Indiana court, the Baltimore circuit judge ruled that the benefits must continue until pending lawsuits are resolved to avoid “irreparable harm” to jobless workers. An appeal filed by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan was rejected Monday.

Lawsuits have also been filed in Ohio and Texas, where unemployment aid was terminated early in both states on June 26.

The Ohio suit, which argues that the state is required to seek the maximum benefits available to its residents, is still pending. A judge has rejected the lawsuit filed by more than 30,000 workers in Texas, however, citing concerns over the group’s standing to sue.

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Casey Smith is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1107189

Reported Deaths: 17621
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1446032234
Lake718651243
Allen66280881
Hamilton50567487
St. Joseph49217645
Elkhart39818546
Vanderburgh34458496
Tippecanoe30484274
Johnson27431465
Hendricks26064382
Porter25355386
Madison20880450
Clark20071278
Vigo18905309
LaPorte17019261
Howard16577313
Delaware16575299
Monroe16463220
Kosciusko14118166
Hancock12984185
Bartholomew12813190
Warrick12113190
Wayne11987268
Floyd11939226
Grant11845241
Morgan10324191
Boone9770121
Noble9181122
Henry9093167
Marshall9002147
Dearborn8900100
Dubois8778139
Shelby8178129
Cass8099127
Lawrence7989184
DeKalb7693108
Jackson758393
Huntington7548111
Gibson7045118
Montgomery6986123
Harrison6905100
Knox6884115
Steuben661988
Miami6530111
Whitley651460
Putnam638384
Clinton622177
Wabash6137111
Jasper607392
Jefferson5760104
Ripley553093
Adams537981
Daviess5042117
Scott485780
Wells4787103
White472869
Greene4661100
Clay460562
Decatur4576110
Jennings445767
Fayette442894
LaGrange423190
Posey405444
Randolph3872107
Washington387056
Fountain370464
Fulton361673
Spencer359247
Starke351574
Owen349677
Sullivan346654
Orange326572
Jay323950
Rush304332
Carroll291839
Franklin289544
Perry287153
Vermillion282058
Tipton249465
Parke248530
Pike245544
Blackford219744
Pulaski207559
Newton180652
Brown174250
Crawford168329
Benton165517
Martin152119
Switzerland146812
Warren133916
Union120516
Ohio92113
Unassigned0588

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