A Maryland judge has temporarily halted the early end of weekly federal unemployment benefits for state residents.
The enhanced federal benefits, including supplemental $300 weekly payments, had been set to end for Marylanders at 11:59 p.m. Saturday.
The decision came after the judge heard arguments Friday in two lawsuits over Gov. Larry Hogan's administration's plan to cut off the benefits earlier than September, when the federal government plans to end them.
On Saturday, Judge Lawrence Fletcher-Hill of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City issued a temporary restraining order, telling Hogan and Maryland Secretary of Labor Tiffany Robinson that they must immediately take back their notice to the U.S. Department of Labor that the state would stop accepting the federal benefits available to Marylanders.
Hogan has said the extra money wasn't necessary anymore, pointing to a worker shortage. Other states with Republican governors have taken similar steps.
But two separate lawsuits brought by unemployed Marylanders said it would be harmful to end the benefits early. The plaintiffs in the cases have been receiving supplemental unemployment benefits made available to the states from the federal government under the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Their lawyers argued that ending the benefits early would cut off a lifeline for struggling families.
In his decision, the judge said the plaintiffs showed that losing the benefits early would threaten "immediate, substantial, irreparable harm."
Hogan told the Baltimore Sun on Saturday morning that the ruling would be “immediately appealed."
The decision affects nearly 250,000 people, according to the labor department, the Associated Press reported earlier this week.
Another hearing in the lawsuits will be held soon, and the restraining order will expire in 10 days unless it's renewed or extended.