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House Republican Leader Ken Fredette (left) and Assistant Leader Alex Willette urge Democrats to support welfare reform during a media availability on April 3, 2014.
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For Immediate Release

Date: 04/07/14

Rep. Fredette Urges Senate Dems to Pass His Work-Search-Before-Welfare Bill

Welfare reform measure among four to be considered in Senate Monday

AUGUSTA - House Republican Leader Ken Fredette of Newport on Monday urged Senate Democrats to approve LD 1815, his bill to establish an upfront work search requirement for job-ready Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) applicants.

"Opponents of welfare reform have spent a lot of time recently attacking other commonsense proposals to restrict EBT use, but they haven't justified their opposition to the work-search-before-welfare bill," said Rep. Fredette. "This is something that virtually every Mainer would agree is good policy, so we owe it to them to have a vigorous debate on the issue."

Even liberal blogger Gerald Weinand of Dirigo Blue has acknowledged the benefits of the measure, which gained nine Democratic votes in the House last week before failing, 70-62. The Maine Senate is expected to debate and vote on the bill, along with three other welfare reform proposals, on Monday afternoon. Rep. Fredette's bill would require job-ready TANF applicants to apply for at least three jobs before receiving benefits.

"Growing up, I saw firsthand the perils of poverty, but I also remember when our welfare system was truly an avenue of last resort," said Rep. Fredette. "My bill is one small step toward re-establishing the expectation that those who seek public assistance have exhausted all other avenues before they come to the government for help. We all want to help the truly needy with some temporary assistance, but taxpayers are tired of feeling taken advantage of."

Under the proposal, job applications could be made online or in-person and prospective TANF recipients would simply provide verifiable information to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) about where they applied. Applicants must currently wait about 30 days before receiving benefits, so the work search requirement would not delay benefits.

Assistant Senate Republican Leader Roger Katz of Augusta, a moderate member of the party, recently penned an op-ed in support of LD 1815 in the Maine Today Media newspapers.

"Here's how I look at it," he wrote. "If my cousin came to me saying he was down and out and in need of money, I would be inclined to help him, but I would first ask whether he had made any recent efforts to find a job. If the answer were 'no,' I would tell him to go look for work and then come back and see me. I suspect most of us would do the same."

The Alabama State Legislature recently passed a similar measure, making that state the 20th, including the District of Columbia, to impose an upfront work search requirement on TANF recipients. Among those states are left-leaning Vermont, New York, and New Jersey.

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