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Maryland spent nearly $400,000 to defend Hogan’s attempt to stop federal unemployment benefits early

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) appears at a news conference with Maryland Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson in Annapolis on July 15.
Gov. Larry Hogan (R) appears at a news conference with Maryland Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson in Annapolis on July 15. (Brian Witte/AP)

Maryland is paying nearly $383,000 to Venable LLP, a high-powered Baltimore-based law firm hired to defend Gov. Larry Hogan’s failed attempt to halt enhanced federal unemployment benefits for residents, according to invoices made public Friday.

The state was billed for 688 hours by the outside counsel to defend against a lawsuit filed by two organizations representing unemployed workers. The suit was described by one union leader as a David-vs.-Goliath legal challenge.

Hogan, who argued that the state’s economic recovery depended on unemployed workers returning to the workforce and that the extra benefits were keeping them from going back, attempted to end the benefits in July. That same month, a Baltimore Circuit Court judge issued a preliminary injunction that allowed the enhanced unemployment benefits to continue until next Monday, the federal deadline, and stopped Hogan from pulling the state out of the federal program.

Hogan was one of at least 25 Republican governors who moved to end the enhanced federal benefits early.

The state decided to seek outside counsel because Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) supported the continuation of the benefits. The invoice is the first submitted by Venable.

After the judge’s ruling, one of the plaintiffs amended their complaint to seek back pay for an estimated 50,000 workers who have had difficulty accessing benefits from the state.

Gov. Hogan says it’s time to get back to work. To those who were laid off, it’s not that simple.

Federal unemployment benefits to continue in Maryland until at least mid-August

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