Judge rules for Gov. DeSantis on unemployment benefits

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis didn’t violate the law when he stopped taking federal money to provide additional unemployment benefits, a judge has ruled.

A group of unemployed Floridians sued DeSantis over his decision to stop using $300 a week in federal COVID-19 relief money to supplement the state’s unemployment benefits. The extra benefit for Floridians ended June 26, ahead of the Sept. 6 expiration set by the federal government.

But Circuit Judge J. Layne Smith said in Monday’s decision the state wasn’t required to use the money. He also questioned how the benefits would be applied retroactively.

While Smith expressed empathy for the unemployed, he said his ruling was based on law.

“I sincerely hope they find employment and that their life circumstances improve quickly,” Smith wrote.