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Judge: Maryland must continue jobless benefits for now

July 3, 2021 GMT

BALTIMORE (AP) — Maryland must at least temporarily keep paying pandemic unemployment benefits to jobless residents, a judge ruled Saturday.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Lawrence Fletcher-Hill issued a temporary restraining order requiring the state to continue administering the benefits, The Baltimore Sun reported. The programs, including supplemental $300 weekly payments, had been set to end 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 ahead of their expiration in September. Other states with Republican governors have taken similar steps.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs had argued that ending the benefits early would cut off a lifeline for struggling families. Hogan has said ending the benefits will help get people into jobs.

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The governor’s lawyers asked for a delay in implementing the restraining order, which the judge denied, according to the newspaper. The administration then filed an appeal to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, which was pending Saturday evening, a spokesman for Hogan told the Sun.

Another hearing on the merits of the lawsuits was expected to be held soon, and the restraining order will expire in 10 days unless it’s renewed or extended.