In this issue of Lansing Update:
This week the House of Representatives sent to the Senate legislation that seeks to enact the most sweeping reforms of the state’s welfare system in nearly a decade. Last year the legislature passed a similar package of bills that sought to create a 48-month time limit along with severe sanctions for non-compliance, but the bills were vetoed by the administration. Legislative leaders in both the House and Senate, however, remain adamant about the need for reform and promised measures on the governor’s desk before the legislature adjourns for the campaign season. Among the provisions included in the legislation passing the House this week include:
- 90-day loss of benefits for the first and second instances of non-compliance, then a 24-month penalty for the third,
- Create a 48-month lifetime limit for assistance,
- Require people under the work requirement sanction be working for the last 30 days of their penalty before benefits could be reinstated,
- Create a pilot program to test people under the assistance program who are suspected of substance abuse, and
- Deny benefits to the following individuals: persons with drug felony convictions on or after January 1, 1997, persons with violent felony convictions for such crimes as murder, rape, robbery and child molestation, fugitives from justice or who are in violation of their probation, and non-U.S. citizens.
Michigan Catholic Conference has dedicated its efforts toward ensuring provisions are available for those who are unable to work after the 48 month limit, as well as softening the 24-month penalty due to its effect on families and children.
House Bill 4309, which is an appropriations supplemental bill, now awaits consideration from the Senate Appropriations Committee.