Indiana files appeal in federal pandemic unemployment case

State officials filed an appeal this week in an ongoing attempt to withdraw Indiana from federal programs that expanded unemployment benefits during the pandemic.

Posted: Jul 21, 2021 9:42 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — State officials filed an appeal this week in an ongoing attempt to withdraw Indiana from federal programs that expanded unemployment benefits during the pandemic.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb and Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Fred Payne argued in their court filings Monday that a Marion County judge “abused” his discretion last month by ordering Indiana to resume participation in the benefit programs while a lawsuit is still pending.

The appeal further maintained that Indiana is not required to participate in the federal programs, and that the governor can withdraw the state from the programs at his discretion.

Indiana on Friday resumed making the $300 federal unemployment payments to workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic after an appeals court ordered it to do so. Officials said the state also restarted its participation in a federal program that makes gig workers and the self-employed eligible for assistance for the first time and another that provides extra weeks of aid.

The payments were the first to be paid since mid-June and came more than a month into a legal battle over the state’s participation in federal programs that expanded unemployment benefits during the pandemic.

Holcomb, who has pushed to drop the state from the federal programs before they’re scheduled to end on Sept. 6, announced in May that Indiana would reinstate a requirement that those receiving unemployment benefits would again have to show they were actively searching for work as of June 1 and that the state would leave the federal programs effective June 19.

Marion Superior Court Judge John Hanley granted a preliminary injunction in an ongoing lawsuit filed June 14 by two legal organizations, ruling that the state must temporarily resume participation in the federal government’s programs that provide unemployment benefits during the pandemic.

In his order, Hanley said Indiana’s decision to leave the federal program early violates state law, adding that the unemployment benefits are “instrumental in allowing Hoosiers to regain financial stability at an individual level while the state continues to face challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic during its return to normalcy.”

The state attorney general’s office asked the Indiana Court of Appeals to quickly stay Hanley’s order, arguing that the state couldn’t continue paying the benefits because it had already ended its agreement with the federal government to administer the federal programs. The state also argued that it wouldn’t have time to withdraw from the federal programs again should the appeals court rule in its favor.

The appeals court upheld Hanley’s order on July 12, however.

Officials at the Department of Workforce Development said the agency issued 25,000 payments totaling more than $33 million on Friday and expect to make thousands of additional payments this week.

Should the state prevail in its appeal, Payne said claimants wouldn’t be asked to return payments.

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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: 1130719

Reported Deaths: 17736
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1468762242
Lake732391255
Allen68004883
Hamilton51739488
St. Joseph50459650
Elkhart40619547
Vanderburgh34963497
Tippecanoe31212276
Johnson27963467
Hendricks26585385
Porter25969387
Madison21318457
Clark20392279
Vigo19244309
LaPorte17405261
Delaware17004303
Howard16942315
Monroe16794220
Kosciusko14447167
Hancock13259186
Bartholomew13180191
Warrick12320190
Wayne12200269
Grant12181247
Floyd12096226
Morgan10552192
Boone9966124
Noble9429123
Marshall9295147
Henry9268169
Dearborn9053100
Dubois8877140
Shelby8402130
Cass8241128
Lawrence8134185
DeKalb7933109
Jackson779993
Huntington7761116
Montgomery7213123
Gibson7179118
Harrison7031100
Knox6958116
Steuben676589
Miami6675114
Whitley667260
Putnam651286
Clinton633179
Wabash6323111
Jasper622192
Jefferson5946105
Ripley565994
Adams547981
Daviess5124118
Scott498980
Wells4894106
White486069
Greene4749101
Clay468662
Decatur4659110
Fayette462597
Jennings457167
LaGrange432291
Posey412944
Randolph4010107
Washington393656
Fountain382264
Fulton368374
Spencer365147
Starke361474
Owen358577
Sullivan351155
Jay336450
Orange335272
Rush314833
Carroll301639
Franklin295244
Perry292853
Vermillion285958
Tipton253367
Parke251630
Pike251244
Blackford224944
Pulaski213759
Newton185052
Brown179750
Benton171717
Crawford170729
Martin152619
Switzerland149412
Warren137816
Union125116
Ohio92913
Unassigned0599

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