INDIANAPOLIS – The plaintiffs in a case over halted unemployment benefits might have won an initial legal round, but the payments haven't started back up yet.
The state of Indiana filed a notice of appeal immediately after a Marion County judge ruled Friday that Gov. Eric Holcomb and the Department of Workforce Development can't opt out of an additional federal unemployment program for those impacted by the pandemic.
That has led to confusion on when – or if – the additional $300 weekly payments start up again. Some Hoosiers were also cut off altogether from any benefits – such as self-employed or contract workers.
A Facebook group aimed at unofficial unemployment help in Indiana has scores of people lamenting the lack of movement.
“They aren't letting us file yet,” said one Hoosier while another struck a hopeful chord – “It warms my heart knowing that families, especially children, will be able to feed themselves until a job opportunity arises. Hate seeing families caught in political fiascos.”
The Department of Workforce Development said the agency “is determining how to proceed because the federal programs no longer exist after their termination on June 19. There is no action that a claimant needs to take right now. Updated information will be provided on DWD's website.”
Holcomb – along with at least two dozen other states – opted out of the program that is slated to run until early September.
On Friday, Marion Superior Court Judge John Hanley said the state must reinstate the benefits.
Indiana code gives the state the responsibility of securing “all rights and benefits” conferred under certain federal statutes, including those that “deal with the establishment and funding of federal and state unemployment benefits schemes,” Hanley said. The benefits under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act are funded by those statutes.
Then on Tuesday, Hanley granted a motion for a change of judge. Attorney General Todd Rokita's office asked for the change before last week's hearing. According to local trial rules, the court “shall grant the motion” and the parties “may agree upon an eligible special judge.”
The case next moves to the Indiana Court of Appeals.