Appeal seeks to let Indiana quit federal jobless programs

Attorneys for the state argue that Indiana’s economic recovery will “suffer irreparable harm” unless an appeals court overturns a judge’s order that the state must continue the federal government’s pandemic unemployment benefits programs.

An appeal filed Tuesday by the state attorney general’s office disputes a Marion County judge’s ruling last week that Indiana law requires the state to procure all available federal unemployment benefits for residents.

The order came in a lawsuit challenging Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb’s decision in May to withdraw the state from federal programs providing an extra $300 in weekly payments to unemployed workers and expanded jobless benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. The changes took effect June 19.

The attorney general’s office argues that the judge wrongly interpreted the state law and supplanted Holcomb’s policy decision.

“The State will suffer irreparable harm to its economic and social recovery efforts” if the order isn’t blocked, the appeal filing said. “The governor has determined that CARES Act benefits are now contributing to a labor shortage and stunted Indiana’s recovery from the pandemic.”

The state Department of Workforce Development said it was determining how to resume the federal programs if the judge’s order remains in place.

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