Indiana judge blocks cutoff of expanded unemployment aid

Indiana judge blocks cutoff of expanded unemployment aid
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A judge in Indiana says that the state must keeping pay enhanced unemployment benefits related to the coronavirus pandemic, saying that cutting off the funds could cause "irreparable harm" to residents unable to pay for basic needs.

Marion Superior Court Judge John Hanley ruled Friday that Indiana must continue the expanded payments until a lawsuit on the matter is settled, CBS News reported. In his ruling, Hanley pointed to "a preponderance of evidence" that suggests cutting off payments could violate state law as well as cause hardship.

"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," Hanley wrote.

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Indiana's Department of Workforce Development (DWD) told CBS it is "determining how to proceed because the federal programs no longer exist after their termination on June 19."

A DWD spokesperson told CBS that unemployed individuals in Indiana do not need to take additional action at this time.

Governors in 26 states — 25 of them GOP-led — have moved to end enhanced unemployment payments, arguing that they disincentivize workers from rejoining the workforce.

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb (R) announced in May that he would be ending the benefits before federal funding ends in September, prompting a lawsuit from unemployed Indiana residents.

Holcomb's office said it would be appealing Hanley's ruling, CBS reported.

"The state of Indiana took the appropriate steps to terminate its participation in federal pandemic unemployment program," Holcomb's office said. "The agreement ended on June 19. The Governor and Department of Workforce Development will discuss an immediate appeal of the judge's order with the Attorney General."