Maine Democrats Look to Eliminate Welfare Work Requirement

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The fight over welfare reform took a new twist last week, as Democrats in the Health and Human Services Committee voted along party lines to support a bill which would roll-back recently reinstated welfare work requirements.

The bill, LD 1052, would force Maine to once-again waive federal requirements which mandate that adults without disabilities or children must work 20 hours per week or volunteer one hour per day after receiving SNAP (food stamp) benefits for 3 months, or else be cut from the program.

Maine has recently begun enforcing this federal requirement after years of seeking a waiver for this provision from the federal government. By implementing the requirement, Maine has greatly reduced the size of the SNAP program, as it was revealed this March that 9,000 fewer childless able-bodied adults are now receiving benefits.

“We must continue to do all that we can to eliminate generational poverty and get people back to work,” said Governor LePage in July 2014 when he announced that Maine would enforce the work requirement.  “We must protect our limited resources for those who are truly in need and who are doing all they can to be self-sufficient.”

In February 2014, Maine was ranked 9th highest in the country in terms of the percent of its population receiving SNAP benefits. But between February 2014 and February 2015, Maine experienced the greatest decline among states in individuals using the SNAP program, as it had 15% of SNAP recipients leave the program.

However, Maine Democrats remained unconvinced that Maine should continue to waive the federal work requirement. Rep. Scott Hamann (D-South Portland), the sponsor of LD 1052, testified that the current 3-month grace period that allows childless and able-bodied adults to not work and still receive SNAP benefits is not enough.

“We are failing rural Mainers if we turn our back on them in their time of need,” said Hamann.

His bill would allow individuals who reside in “counties, labor market areas or other areas” that are experiencing high unemployment or a lack of jobs to continue to receive benefits even if they are not working.

Rep. Hamann also admitted that even though he would “prefer” Maine to seek a state-wide waiver for this requirement, he chose to target specific areas because he understands “the politics involved” in this issue.

Requiring welfare recipients to obtain some form of employment or volunteer position has proven immensely popular, as a 2012 Rasmussen poll found that 83% of Americans believe a work requirement is a necessary qualification for receiving welfare benefits.

If this bill passes, it is unclear how many childless and able-bodied adults could potentially return to the SNAP program.

 

6 COMMENTS

  1. Democrats keep telling us they have all the answers. They have run this state for 40 plus years and had pretty much free rein to do as they wish. Even with this new bill of theirs they say it must be done for those who live in impoverished area’s where there are no jobs. But let us take a closer look. Under democrat rule Industry after industry has left this state. Maine has one of the highest failure rates for start up businesses. With lax rules and requirements for our welfare system, we have had people move here for nothing else but to receive benefits. And the list goes on and on and on. The very reason there are no jobs is because of liberal progressive policies that kill job growth and entrepreneurialism. Ben Franklin said it best “I am for doing good to the poor, but…I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed…that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”

  2. Any Legislator who votes for the majority report on this bill will end up on the endangered species list as to their future electability. Even if this passes it is sure to be vetoed and that veto will be sustained. 20 hours a week is not too much to ask for childless adults receiving benefits from the state.

  3. Libs have been so proud of Obamacare’s provision to permit children to be covered under parental insurance all the way up to age 28. Maybe, it’s time to make parents responsible totally for their children all the way up to 28. Then, parents can decide if they want their kids to work or not.

  4. People who arent working and dont have any children may have other reasons that they dont have a job. Perhaps they live in a rural area and have no transportation or gas money since they dont have a job. If they are able bodied , childless and unemployed they should be given extensive help finding a job. If they are hired and refuse to work then the food stamps should be taken away. People need to realize there may be many reasons that they need the snap program besides being lazy drug addicts. Stop demonizing the poor. This has an negative effect on the people who are trying to better themselves but are down on thier luck due to circumstances beyond their control. Think about it. If a person as described above needs to volunteer, many would need transpotation and gas money which should really be used to find meaningful employment , not to volunteer . Just my thoughts on this, and by the way I have never been on welfare or food stamps myself.

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