Maryland has to continue participating in the enhanced federal unemployment benefits program until it comes to an end in early September. Baltimore Circuit Judge Lawrence Fletcher-Hill issued his ruling yesterday. It’s a huge win for the Maryland economy and the unemployed. It’s a huge defeat for Gov. Hogan.
I think Gov. Hogan got used to the feeling that he was God Emperor of Maryland. Since the early days of the pandemic, he was more or less calling the shots. Hogan proclaimed a state of emergency on March 5, 2020. He then issued multiple executive orders to deal with the growing threat COVID-19 posed to the state.
According to Gov. Hogan, the pandemic is now over. On June 15, 2021, he terminated the various emergency orders in place and told people to go back to normal. He should have taken his own advice. Maryland has three branches of government: executive, legislative, and judicial. Hogan is in charge of the executive branch. During the pandemic, he seems to have forgotten about the legislative and the judicial branch.
When Judge Fletcher-Hill ordered a temporary 10-day restraining order blocking Gov. Larry Hogan from prematurely ending federal unemployment benefits going to Maryland residents, Hogan tried to sidestep the Maryland court asked a federal judge to block the restraining order. He was not successful.
Hogan also ignored the Maryland legislative branch.
From the Baltimore Sun:
They further note that state law requires the state government to participate in federal unemployment programs.
State lawmakers recently strengthened that language. They passed a bill in April that requires the Department of Labor to identify all changes to federal programs “that would expand access to unemployment benefits” and also to revise all “rules and practices to encompass any changes in federal regulations and guidance.”
Maryland was no longer under a state of emergency when Gov. Hogan tried to stop Maryland residents from receiving federal unemployment payments.
Even if Judge Fletcher-Hill ruled in Hogan’s favor, the state’s earliest withdrawal from the federal unemployment program was the middle of August. The CARES Act allows states to withdraw from the federal unemployment program by providing 30 days of written notice. Evidently, the Bidden Administration said Maryland would need to submit a new 30-day written notice since the original written notice was for July 3. That was made moot by the judge’s first ruling.
I think Hogan created a lot of needless drama by trying to end the state’s participation in the enhanced federal unemployment program. Hogan’s goal was to deny people money afforded to them by the CARES Act. He wanted people to feel desperate. He believed people to get so desperate, they would have to take a low-paying job doing something outside their normal occupation.
If Larry Hogan can feel shame, I think shame is something he should feel right now.