On the same day, an Ohio state judge denied a similar request to restore the $300 weekly pandemic supplement to jobless residents while he considers the case.
States’ obligation to obtain unemployment benefits for residents
In Arkansas, Circuit Judge Herbert Wright Jr. said state law requires state officials to work with the federal government to secure all available unemployment compensation.
“The clear meaning of Arkansas law in this regard is that the state is to participate in these types of programs for the benefit of its citizens,” Wright wrote in his order. “The court has serious doubts that the governor and the director of Workforce Services were acting within the scope of their duties, as these decisions would normally be the subject of legislation from the General Assembly.”
“Everyone has made their best efforts to go back to work, but it’s not easy out there, and the current Covid outbreak isn’t going to make it any easier,” De Liban said, noting that the state requires the unemployed to search for work and accept suitable jobs as a condition of receiving unemployment benefits.
The state will appeal the preliminary injunction, said Shealyn Sowers, Hutchinson’s spokeswoman.
“The wording chosen by the Ohio General Assembly clearly does not include the CARES Act,” Holbrook wrote, referring to the coronavirus relief package Congress passed in March 2020 that created the three pandemic unemployment programs.
The plaintiffs will immediately appeal, said their attorney, Marc Dann.
DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted praised the decision, saying that ending the federal boost helps both employers and workers.
“As a result of the tough decisions we have made, Ohio’s recovery is strong, unemployment claims are declining, and Ohio’s unemployment rate is below the national average,” they said.
Out-of-work residents in Oklahoma and Texas have also filed lawsuits in hopes of restoring the benefits, while an effort is underway in Missouri to challenge Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s decision to terminate the programs.
In addition to the $300 weekly supplement, the federal programs provide benefits to freelancers, the self-employed, independent contractors and certain people affected by the coronavirus, and to those who have exhausted their regular state benefits.