UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

Unemployment benefits in Indiana must continue: why was the decision taken?

An Indiana state judged ruled that the Hoosier state must continue to pay pandemic unemployment benefits Governor Eric Holcomb ordered stopped.

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Unemployment benefits in Indiana must continue: why was the decision taken?
PATRICK T. FALLON AFP

Indiana is one of 26 states that have opted out of continuing unemployment compensation from federal pandemic programs. However jobless workers in the state sued the Governor over the decision saying that he had violated state law. A similar lawsuit has been filed in Texas.

The lawsuit against Governor Eric Holcomb states that by law Indiana is required " to procure all available federal insurance benefits to citizens." Governor Holcomb ended his state’s participation in the unemployment programs established by Congress at the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic citing the need to fill available jobs which were remaining vacant because of the overly generous jobless assistance.

Why did a judge decide unemployment benefits must continue in Indiana?

The federal enhanced benefits are due to expire the first week of September nationally but in Indiana they had ended 19 June. The programs, including a $300 weekly booster to other unemployment compensation, were last extended in March under the American Rescue Plan. In total a dozen states have already ended one, the $300 jobless worker aid booster, or all of the federal pandemic unemployment insurance programs.

Judge John Hanley of the Marion Superior Court granted a preliminary injunction on Indiana’s suspension of the enhanced unemployment compensation programs on Friday. He said the harm created by terminating the benefits far outweighed any risks to the state while the lawsuit is pending resolution. "A loss of housing or medical care and the inability to provide food, shelter and adequate childcare for a family constitute irreparable harm pending resolution of this cause of action and are not adequately compensable by an award of damages," Judge Hanley wrote.

Judge Hanley added that the jobless aid is “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 Governor’s office will consider appealing the decision but in the meantime around 230,000 Indiana residents will be able to continue receiving their jobless benefits.

Texas Governor and Attorney General sued over state’s decision to end enhanced unemployment benefits

A similar lawsuit to the one in Indiana has been filed in Texas against Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton. Participation in the pandemic unemployment insurance programs is set to end 26 June. Around 30,000 Texans who organized over Facebook in two separate groups say that the Governor overstepped his authority when he announced in May that Texas would drop the programs.

The lawsuit alleges that under the state constitution the decision must be made through a determination by the Texas Workforce Commission and not by the Governor alone. Nearly a million Texans could lose some or all of their unemployment benefits.