A Franklin County judge may reimplement Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) benefits in Ohio after they were ended by Gov. Mike DeWine (R) in June.

The extra $300 per week in unemployment benefits, part of a federal government program to help Americans survive the COVID-19 pandemic, officially ended in Ohio on June 26. DeWine cited a labor shortage in the state, as most businesses reopened as normal after pandemic restrictions were lifted.

“When this program was put in place, it was a lifeline for many Americans at a time when the only weapon we had in fighting the virus was to slow its spread through social distancing, masking and sanitization,” DeWine said when he announced the program would be ended. “That is no longer the case.”

Star News Education Foundation Journalism ProjectBut several residents, including Candy Bowling of Forest Park, sued to continue receiving the benefits until the federal government’s scheduled FPUC end date of September 4.

“I get a lot of stories that are very, very bad,” Bowling reportedly said. ““My anxiety is up a lot. It’s nerve-wracking.”

She said many people have thanked her for fighting the state on the issue.

“On July 6, a lawsuit was filed in Cuyahoga County against Governor Mike DeWine and Matt Damschroder, interim head of Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, claiming the state wrongfully pulled the plug on the $300 a week benefits unemployed Ohioans were receiving through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program (FPUC),” Fox 19 reported.

The lawsuit claims DeWine violated federal law by ending the program early. The plaintiffs are seeking a temporary injunction that would stop the state government from ending the payments.

Common Pleas Judge Michael J. Holbrook of Franklin County heard 30 minutes of arguments from the state and from the plaintiffs Friday, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

He said he expects to reach a decision by the middle of next week.

Many states, including states run by Democrats, have opted out of the FPUC program, citing concerns similar to DeWine’s.

Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, and Alabama recently opted out of the program. So did Louisiana.

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Pete D’Abrosca is a contributor at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Pete on Twitter. Email tips to dabroscareports@gmail.com.