Iowa Governor Sued For Ending Jobless Benefits During Pandemic
A new lawsuit claims that Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds' refusal to pay jobless benefits to Iowans during the pandemic was unlawful and denied thousands of Iowans "life-sustaining benefits" according to the Corridor Business Journal.
Karla Smith of Pleasantville and Holly Bladel of Clinton filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Iowa. The CBJ reports that the lawsuit claims that the two women along with thousands of other Iowans were denied unemployment benefits thanks to the actions of Governor Reynolds and Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend.
The CBJ reports that the lawsuit alleges that Reynolds and Ms. Townsend violated Iowa's Employment Security law which requires the state to cooperate fully with the U.S. Department of Labor, and make available all provisions provided under the Social Security Act that relate to unemployment compensation. Lawyers for the two Iowa women are seeking class-action status for the case so other Iowans who were harmed by the decision can join the case.
Iowa was one of at least 25 states, all led by Republican governors, that chose to terminate federal pandemic-related unemployment assistance programs before they expired in 2021, according to the CBJ. They did so mainly due to employment shortages, claiming that the federal benefits were encouraging people to stay home and not work.
At the time those states pulled out of the federal benefits programs, the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee warned that states could lose up to $13 billion in economic activity by refusing the federal funds.