Ohio high court to weigh end of $300 weekly unemployment payment


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Supreme Court will hear arguments in May on whether Gov. Mike DeWine had the legal ability to end the state’s participation in a federal pandemic unemployment aid program last year ahead of a government deadline for stopping the payments.

At issue before the court is a weekly $300 federal payment for Ohioans to offset the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The federal government ended that program Sept. 6 but DeWine stopped the payments June 26, saying the need for the payments had ended.

DeWine, a Republican, followed the position of business groups that said the payment was making it difficult to recruit employees. Critics of ending the payments said workers had multiple reasons why they might not be returning to jobs.

Ending the program early stopped about $900 million in Ohio payments. The two parties disagree on whether that money could still be paid, should the court rule against DeWine.

The court on Thursday set oral arguments for May 25. Justice Patrick DeWine, the governor’s son, has recused himself to avoid the appearance of impropriety “that might result from my father’s public involvement in this case.”