Lawsuit filed over ending expanded unemployment benefits early in Iowa

DES MOINES — Two Iowans have filed a lawsuit accusing Governor Kim Reynolds of violating state law when she ended federal unemployment benefits that had been expanded at the beginning of the pandemic.

Americans who were eligible for unemployment benefits were getting an extra $300 a week under a program first approved during the Trump Administration. The number of weeks someone was eligible for unemployment was also extended.

That federal expansion ended in September of 2021, but Governor Reynolds and some other Republican governors ended it a few months earlier, arguing the expanded benefits were hurting the job market and allowing people to choose not to work.

The Iowa Capital Dispatch was first to report on the lawsuit filed on behalf of Holly Bladel of Clinton and Karla Smith of Pleasantville. The lawsuit claims the governor violated a state law which requires the state to cooperate with the U.S. Department of Labor and get all advantages available for unemployed Iowans.

Governor Reynolds has issued a written response Friday afternoon.

“The federal government doesn’t get to run the state of Iowa or impose policies that damage our economy,” Reynolds said. “Paying people to stay home at a time when there are more jobs available than people to fill them defies common sense. Iowans know there is dignity in work.”