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Rep. Fredette (right) joins Gov. LePage, Commissioner Mayhew, Mayor MacDonald, and lawmakers in introducing four new welfare reform bills in the Governor's Cabinet Room on Monday, March 24, 2014.
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For Immediate Release

Date: 03/24/14

Fredette, LePage Roll Out Welfare Reform Bills

Call on Dems to stop lecturing on poverty, start listening to reform ideas

AUGUSTA - House Republican Leader Ken Fredette of Newport on Monday morning joined Governor Paul LePage, Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Commissioner Mary Mayhew, and Mayor Bob MacDonald of Lewiston in introducing four bills designed to reform Maine's welfare system.

Rep. Fredette introduced bills to require job-ready welfare applicants to apply for three jobs and to eliminate exceptions to work search requirements last fall, but Democratic leadership blocked them from being allowed into the 2014 legislative session.

Governor LePage exercised his constitutional authority to re-submit the bills as Governor's bills to be heard this session.

Rep. Fredette is sponsoring LD 1815, the work-search-before-welfare bill;

Rep. Mike Nadeau (R-Fort Kent) is sponsoring LD 1820, which prohibits out-of-state EBT card use;

Rep. Sharri MacDonald (R-Old Orchard Beach) is sponsoring LD 1822, which welfare funds from being used to pay for tobacco, liquor, gambling, or bail; and

Rep. James Gillway (R-Searsport) is sponsoring LD 1842, which removes exceptions to work search requirement in the TANF program.

All four bill sponsors were present for the press conference. Rep. Fredette opened his remarks praising the work of Commissioner Mayhew, recalling his visit to DHHS's Office of Family Independence while crafting two of the bills last fall and noting the evident culture shift in the department toward transitioning people from welfare to work and discouraging—not encouraging—dependency.

"There is a dramatic culture shift taking place at DHHS and it is evident to anyone who speaks with the people managing Maine's welfare programs," he said. "We hear it every day when speaking with people on the street. Republican, Democrat, or Independent, Mainers resent the thought of working long hours and multiple jobs just so others can sit at home or abuse the welfare system. It's a matter of fairness and it's a matter of principle."

Rep. Fredette recalled an upbringing of poverty in rural Maine, similar that experienced by Governor LePage.

"I'd like to take this opportunity to urge Democratic leaders to stop attacking our motives and to listen to what we have to say," said Rep. Fredette. "People who have never been poor should think twice before accusing Governor LePage or myself of waging a 'war on the poor.'"

Rep. Fredette added that Republicans are focused on reforming Maine's welfare system so that Maine taxpayers are not taken advantage of and that the neediest Mainers, for whom welfare was designed, have the help they need.

"Even though Maine ranks second in the nation for welfare spending, there are thousands of truly needy Mainers going without the help they need because we have expanded welfare to able-bodied adults again and again while weakening accountability measures within the programs," added Rep. Fredette.

All four welfare reform measures will receive public hearings before the Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee Tuesday afternoon beginning at 1:00 PM and are scheduled for committee work sessions Wednesday at the same time.

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Contact:
David Sorensen
Maine House Republicans
Tel: (207) 205-7793