No decision on Ohio lawsuits over retroactive $300 weekly jobless checks

Unemployment application, pen and laptop on a white desk
Ohio discontinued the extra $300 weekly unemployment benefits in June even though the federal government offered the benefits until September. [Moab Republic / Shutterstock]

Unemployed Ohioans who were hoping lawsuits would bring back the $300 weekly checks that were discontinued this summer will have a bit longer to wait for a resolution to those cases.

Gov. Mike DeWine stopped taking federal money for the program in June, saying the checks were keeping people from returning to work. Former Attorney General Marc Dann filed lawsuits on behalf of about 200,000 unemployed Ohioans.

A Franklin County judge has stayed all cases till the Ohio Supreme Court weighs in, which Dann said means nothing will happen till then.

“One way or the other, the Supreme Court is going to rule, and I think we have very strong legal arguments here," Dann said. "So I'm confident that they will either not take the case or if they take it that they'll agree with us that the governor had no authority to refuse this money.”

Twenty-six states, most of them Republican, ended those checks before the federal program stopped on Labor Day.

Dann’s lawsuits seek to restore about $900 million, which is about $3,000 per person.

"The federal government is still willing to give us the money, so it wouldn't cost the state anything for the governor to say, 'I've changed my mind. I want the money,'" Dann said. "And that would pump $900 million into Ohio's economy almost instantly."

Pandemic-related expansion of unemployment benefits, including those $300 weekly checks, ended Sept. 6. There are no plans at the federal level to continue that temporary program, though the Biden administration has said states that want to can use other federal funds to help people still struggling with unemployment.

Ohio's unemployment rate was 5.4% for August. It was 8.9% a year ago, and 4.1% in February 2020, before the pandemic hit.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

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