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Rep. Sanderson (left) and Rep. Sirocki working on the HHS Committee.
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For Immediate Release

Date: 03/27/14

HHS Dems Vote Against Welfare Reforms

Dems to Mainers: 'What Welfare Abuse?'

AUGUSTA - Democrats on the Maine Legislature's Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee on Wednesday afternoon voted against one welfare reform bill and crippled another, leaving two more welfare reform bills to be taken up by the committee late in the afternoon.

The committee voted on party lines against LD 1815, which would simply require that job-ready welfare applicants apply for three jobs before receiving benefits. Nineteen other states have enacted the work-search-before-welfare requirement, including liberal states such as Vermont and New York.

House Republican Leader Ken Fredette of Newport sponsored the Governor's bill. "Everyone I speak with—Democrat, Republican, or Independent—thinks this bill is a great idea," he said. "It's just the Democratic politicians who are out of touch and think that the welfare status quo is working out just fine. As someone who grew up in poverty, I can tell you that it's not. We must act to ensure that our scarce resources are going to those who truly need them and we must break the cycle of intergenerational dependency."

Another welfare reform proposal voted on by the HHS Committee Wednesday, LD 1820, would prohibit the use of Maine EBT cards out of state. Maine DHHS recently released information revealing that the state's EBT cards have been used in all 50 states, including at Disney World, and a resort in Puerto Rico.

Nonetheless, Democrats on the committee voted for an amended version of the bill that replaces it with a study of the issue.

"A study is all too often legislative speak for 'we don't want to make a tough decision,'" said Rep. Deborah Sanderson (R-Chelsea), ranking House Republican on the HHS Committee. "In this case, it's also liberal-speak for 'there's no problem in our welfare system.' The time for studying and pondering has long past; the time for action is now. We must reform this system because every welfare dollar spent at a Florida resort is a dollar taken from a hungry child or a struggling taxpayer."

The committee has yet to take up LD 1822, which would prohibit the use of welfare funds on tobacco, liquor, gambling, and bail; and LD 1842, which would eliminate exceptions to the federal work search requirement for TANF recipients. Both bills are expected to be voted on late Wednesday.

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