Judge: Maryland must continue jobless benefits for now

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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 keep 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 earlier than September, when the federal government plans to end them. 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, who has said ending the benefits will help get people into jobs, told the newspaper Saturday morning that the ruling would be “immediately appealed.”

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

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