Gov. Asa Hutchinson: State plans to appeal court ruling on PUA benefits before Supreme Court

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – A court ruling to resume Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits could now be back up in the air, potentially heading to the Arkansas Supreme Court.

The PUA checks were set to go out to struggling Arkansans through September until Governor Asa Hutchinson announced in May that Arkansas would be opting out of the federal benefits after June 26.

Kevin De Liban filed the suit against the state on behalf of several Arkansans who were receiving PUA and within just one week, a Pulaski County judge ruled in their favor, issuing a preliminary injunction ordering the state to resume the payments.

But, according to Hutchinson, that ruling might not go up without a fight.

“It’s my understanding that there will be a quick appeal that will be filed with the Arkansas Supreme Court,” the governor said in a press conference Thursday.

De Liban says he fears this could be detrimental for the plaintiffs and other Arkansans relying on PUA.

“We had a couple plaintiffs who had to give up their apartments, people don’t know how they’re going to keep their lights,” De Liban said. “One person can’t pay for their daughters medical bills.”

The lawyer said in order to receive the benefits, people have to prove they are seeking work and willing to take jobs that are suitable.

De Liban also said he feels many are under the assumption that those receiving PUA are not actively looking for work and therefor underserving of the benefits because so many jobs are now opening back up. He added that all five of his plaintiffs are continuously looking for work.

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