Freshman Senator Eric Brakey (R-Auburn) is continuing the effort to mandate that new Maine citizens live in the state for at least six months before receiving welfare benefits.
Brakey will present a bill, LD 1037, to the Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday, which he says will prevent Maine from becoming a destination state for welfare recipients, and will help maintain adequate levels of welfare funding.
The bill would require individuals to be residents of Maine for 180 days before being eligible to receive food stamps, TANF benefits, General Assistance funds, or Medicare benefits.
“We do not want a welfare magnet, attracting individuals to our state looking to sign-up on day one for our generous welfare system upon arrival in Maine,” explained Brakey.
“We cannot afford to take care of those choosing to come to Maine, not for work opportunities, but for welfare opportunities.”
Critics of such a provision point out that the U.S. Supreme Court has previously struck down similar laws in other states, ruling that such laws are unconstitutional.
They say that not only would this type of law violate the constitution, and infringe upon an individual’s right to travel, but it would also harm needy individuals and families who recently moved to Maine.
Robyn Merrill, executive director of Maine Equal Justice Partners said to The Associated Press “does it make a lot of sense to say that people can’t get help so that their situation deteriorates even more?”
In 2011, a bill that would have imposed a 90 day residency requirement for welfare benefits failed to gather enough support to pass the Republican-controlled Senate.
Brakey is also sponsoring five other welfare reform bills that will be heard by the Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday.