(CNN)Jobless residents of Maryland and Texas have filed lawsuits in state courts seeking to force their governors to reinstate pandemic unemployment benefits.
They join an effort begun by out-of-work Indiana residents, who have yet to see their payments restart despite a court ruling last week ordering the state to continue the benefits.
A judge in Maryland issued a temporary restraining order on Saturday morning requiring the state to continue paying the benefits that were set to end that day.
The three states are among the 26 states that are terminating early at least one of the three pandemic unemployment insurance programs Congress enacted in March 2020 and extended twice to support people during the coronavirus-fueled economic downturn.
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.
Some 4.1 million Americans will be affected, according to The Century Foundation.
Citing workforce shortages, the governors argue the expanded benefits are keeping the unemployed from accepting job offers — though there is not much evidence showing that more people are rejoining the labor market after their benefits stop. The payments ended on June 19 in Indiana and June 26 in Texas.
The three pandemic unemployment programs are scheduled to expire in early September in the states that are continuing them, under a provision contained in the Democrats’ $1.9 trillion relief package that President Joe Biden signed into law in March.
Lawyers for unemployed Maryland residents argued in state court on Friday that Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s move to end the pandemic programs early violates Maryland statutes to provide unemployment compensation assistance and obtain all federally funded benefits available.
Terminating the benefits early will make it harder for the unemployed to afford basic needs, including housing and health care, at a time when many are still struggling to find work. More than 300,000 Maryland residents will be affected by the cessation of the programs, with 85% of them losing all their benefits, according t
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