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Maine Legislature sets hearings for welfare reform

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ebt cardAUGUSTA – Public hearings have been scheduled for a full slate of welfare reform proposals introduced by House Republican Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport) and Gov. Paul R. LePage.

Hearings on four bills will be held on Tuesday at 1:00PM in the Health and Human Services Committee room.

The bills to be heard include Fredette’s proposal to enact a frontend work search for those who apply for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash welfare program. Based on similar laws enacted in other states, the bill would require welfare-seekers to prove that the have applied for three jobs before receiving benefits.

LePage’s three bills include:

  • A bill to place geographic restrictions on the use of Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards.
  • A bill to prohibit TANF welfare benefits from being used to buy, tobacco, liquor, scratch tickets, or bail; and
  • A bill to study welfare fraud and abuse and report back to the Legislature

The comprehensive set of welfare reforms does not include a restriction on the cash allowance available under the TANF program. Currently, benefit recipients can withdraw an entire month’s TANF benefit from an ATM as cash. Once it becomes cash, the state can do little to monitor or police how it’s spent.

In January, The Maine Wire made national headlines with an exclusive investigation into TANF abuse. Those stories can be found here.

LePage is expected to hold a press conference early next week to discuss welfare reform.

About Steve Robinson

Steve Robinson is the former editor of The Maine Wire and currently producer for the Howie Carr Show. Follow him on Twitter @Stevie_Rob or send him an email at Steve@HowieCarrShow.com.

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