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Ivey wins court battle over federal unemployment compensation

A Montgomery County court gave Gov. Kay Ivey a win this week in a lawsuit seeking to force Alabama back into federally-funded pandemic unemployment compensation programs.

The plaintiffs in the case had been asking the court to require Ivey and Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington to opt back into several federal programs providing benefits to those unable to find jobs as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

Ivey discontinued the federal unemployment supplements on June 19 as part of an effort to bolster the state’s workforce. The move included stopping the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, which provided for a supplemental $300 weekly payment to recipients of unemployment compensation.

Small businesses struggling to fill open jobs applauded Ivey’s action at the time of her decision.

Facing an unprecedented labor shortage combined with record low unemployment, Ivey aimed to encourage more people to reenter the workforce by ending the supplement.

Circuit Judge James Anderson dismissed the lawsuit on Tuesday, writing that Ivey and Washington “have discretion to choose whether to participate in the programs that are the subject of this suit, no legal duty exists that requires them to do so.”

Gina Maiola, press secretary for Ivey, expressed confidence in the governor’s decision to opt out of the federal program and in the prospects of winning the plaintiffs’ appeal.

“Governor Ivey was one of the five leading governors in the country to end what was intended to be a short-term relief program from the federal government, and she stood firmly behind that position,” Maiola said in a statement to Yellowhammer News. “We are pleased to see this lawsuit dismissed in the Montgomery courts and look forward to getting another win at the Alabama Supreme Court.”

Ivey’s win in court comes on the heels of another fight with the federal government over the recently announced vaccine mandates.

Following the Biden administration’s announcement that it would get Republican governors “out of the way” if they did not help with the mandate, Ivey issued a challenge to President Joe Biden daring him to do so.

“I’m standing as strong as a bull for Alabama against this outrageous Washington overreach,” she emphasized on social media.

It is estimated that the vaccine mandate could affect 100 million people nationwide. Businesses failing to meet the vaccination requirements could face up to $14,000 in fines per violation.

Maiola added that Ivey will remain opposed to both programs coming down from Washington.

“Governor Ivey will continue to fight for Alabama businesses as our country faces a lingering labor shortage, whether that be ending excess government payouts or standing against President Biden’s latest overreaching mandates,” she concluded.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia