State Watch

Indiana residents sue governor over early end of pandemic unemployment benefits

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Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) is facing a lawsuit over his decision to end pandemic unemployment benefits — including added $300 federal payments — at the end of the week.

As CNN reports, the lawsuit filed by unemployed residents in Indiana argues that Holcomb’s actions violate state law that requires officials to “procure all available federal insurance benefits to citizens.” The suit requests a preliminary injunction so benefits will continue throughout the court proceedings.

Apart from the added $300 payments, recipients of other federal programs that help freelancers and self-employed individuals in the state will also stop receiving benefits, CNN notes. Around 230,000 jobless Indiana residents have been receiving benefits and about 177,000 will no longer receive any payments.

Governors in 26 states — nearly all GOP-led — have moved to end pandemic benefits, arguing that the payments are disincentivizing workers from rejoining the workforce amid a continued labor shortage. Alaska, Iowa, Mississippi and Missouri were the first states to follow through with these plans, making them test cases to see if cutting off benefits will lead to people reenter the workforce.

“There are help wanted signs posted all over Indiana, and while our economy took a hit last year, it is roaring like an Indy 500 race car engine now,” Holcomb said when announcing his plans to end benefits last month. “I am hearing from multiple sector employers that they want and need to hire more Hoosiers to grow.”

“The whole purpose of the unemployment system is to provide people with insurance funds to bridge the gap until they find new employment,” Jennifer Terry, an attorney with Indiana Legal Services, one of the firms that filed the lawsuit against Holcomb, told CNN.

“Unfortunately, there are just a lot of industries and pockets of our country that have not fully rebounded from the pandemic,” Terry added.

Tags Eric Holcomb Indiana Labour law Unemployment Unemployment benefits

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