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Judge To Issue Decision On Federal Unemployment Benefits Class Action Lawsuit Hours Before Benefits Expire

ANNAPOLIS (WJZ) -- The fate of federal unemployment benefits for thousands of Marylanders remains in limbo Friday night as a judge stalls his final decision just hours before the funds end.

Last month, Maryland's unemployed workers filed a lawsuit pushing for those benefits to be extended after Governor Larry Hogan announced a July 3rd deadline

A circuit court judge says he needs more time to decide whether to end the additional federal pandemic benefits that put $300 more dollars into the pockets of unemployed Marylanders.

This is a decision thousands of folks have been waiting for….and we know this because today's hearing was a public one broadcast via zoom with a phone number anyone from the general public could can - and at one point over sixteen thousand people were dialed in…all eagerly awaiting this decision

"So in the past six months I've applied to a hundred jobs," said Dee Green, who is unemployed.

Green says her full-time job right now is trying to get a job.

I have my business suit and I have been active even at sixty-three, i'm just out there applying to jobs and showing up for interviews," Green said.

But it's been months and nothing. And that's why in the meantime, she says she needs her unemployment benefits, but the federal benefit of three hundred dollars expires Saturday.

"That three hundred dollars represents food on the table," said Alec Summerfield, attorney for the Unemployed Workers Union. "That represents child care, that represents car payments, house payments, healthcare payments."

In June, Governor Hogan announced the state will opt out of the benefits months before the federal deadline in September.

Attorney Alec Summerfield filed a class-action lawsuit last week versus Governor Hogan and Maryland Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson on behalf of about 50,000 people who filed for unemployment - hoping a judge will reverse the governor's decision.

"We want him to stop the governor from cutting off the federal benefits of three hundred dollars a week getting to people," said Summerfield.

But during a hearing Friday, after listening to both sides, the case's judge said he needed more time to decide, leaving Maryland's unemployed awaiting a final decision.

The judge said he will post his written decision by 10 a.m. Saturday. The benefits end at 11:59 p.m. Saturday.

In response to backlash surrounding Saturday's deadline, Governor Hogan has said "While these federal programs provided important temporary relief, vaccines and jobs are now in good supply. And we have a critical problem where businesses across our state are trying to hire more people, but many are facing severe worker shortages."

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