Stewart Launches Petition on Unemployment Benefits

By Adam Pagnucco.

Delegate Vaughn Stewart (D-19) has launched an online petition urging Governor Larry Hogan to cut checks to every applicant who has been waiting to receive unemployment benefits for longer than two weeks. Stewart cited the example of Vermont, which began sending $1,200 checks to applicants with unresolved claims back in April. Two Maryland Senate committees recently held a nearly nine-hour Zoom session hearing scores of complaints about problems with the state’s unemployment system. It’s a huge issue for state legislators and constituents alike.

Stewart’s petition can be found here. His statement on Facebook is reprinted below.

Today, I launched a petition drive seeking immediate relief for Marylanders still waiting for their unemployment benefits. According to the Maryland Department of Labor last week, nearly 35,000 Marylanders have requested but not yet received their benefits.

The pandemic has created a nationwide backlog of unemployment claims, but many states have handled it more deftly than Maryland. For example, in April, Republican Governor Phil Scott directed Vermont’s Department of Labor to send $1,200 checks to any resident whose unemployment claim had not been processed.

My petition urges Governor Hogan to follow Vermont’s lead by immediately mailing checks to every Marylander who has waited longer than two weeks to receive their full benefits. With so many Marylanders still waiting for the benefits they paid for, it’s time to put people over process. Governor Hogan should send relief now, and worry about bureaucratic box-checking later. You can sign here:

I’ve collected dozens of stories from workers throughout the state who are still struggling to access their benefits. I solicited these tales on “Maryland DIY – REAL ANSWERS,” a popular Facebook group where residents help each other navigate the bureaucratic maze. Here are a few. (I’ve changed names to protect identities.)

Sabrina from Carroll County has waited a month and a half for benefits. She can’t pay her bills, her savings are gone, and she’s on the verge of bankruptcy.

Corinne from Frederick County is a single mom who has waited for her unemployment benefits since March. She can’t pay her rent, her car payment, or any other bills. This nightmare has sent her into a deep depression.

Kiana from Prince George’s County is a mother of three and a domestic violence survivor. She’s waited weeks to receive her benefits, and cannot afford to move her and her children out of a temporary safe house.

Governor Hogan–send checks to these women and the thousands of Marylanders waiting for benefits NOW.