Legislature(1993 - 1994)
03/22/1994 01:35 PM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE BILL NO. 409 "An Act relating to the maximum amount of assistance that may be granted under the adult public assistance program and the program of aid to families with dependent children; proposing a special demonstration project within the program of aid to families with dependent children and directing the Department of Health and Social Services to seek waivers from the federal government to implement the project; and providing for an effective date." MARK GREENBERG, CENTER FOR LAW AND SOCIAL POLICY, WASHINGTON D.C. spoke in support of three features of the proposed demonstration project: * An increase in work incentives for Aide to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) family members; * The waiver of the 100 hour rule, that currently disqualifies two parent families with a full time worker regardless of the family's income's; and * Waivers of vehicle equity which disqualifies families who own a single vehicle worth more than $2,500. Mr. Greenberg discussed the workfare requirement. He emphasized that running a workfare program costs money. He asserted that evidence implies that workfare programs do not dramatically raise employment. He questioned if funding would be better spent to improve job programs. Mr. Greenberg questioned the equality of reducing payments to all AFDC and Adult Public Assistance (APA) recipients in order to fund a program available to a few. Representative Brown asked if federal welfare reform will include waivers allowed for in HB 409. Mr. Greenberg pointed out that the federal administration has not introduced legislation. He observed that federal policy encourages state reform but requires programs to be cost neutral to the federal government. HB 409 was HELD in Committee for further discussion. HOUSE BILL NO. 409 "An Act relating to the maximum amount of assistance that may be granted under the adult public assistance program and the program of aid to families with dependent children; proposing a special demonstration project within the program of aid to families with dependent children and directing the Department of Health and Social Services to seek waivers from the federal government to implement the project; and providing for an effective date." Representative Therriault provided members with AMENDMENT 1 (copy on file). He MOVED to ADOPT AMENDMENT 1. Representative Grussendorf OBJECTED. Representative Therriault explained that Amendment 1 would allow the Fairbanks North Star Borough to participate in the demonstration project. He maintained that the cost of including Fairbanks in the demonstration project will not exceed revenues anticipated to be raised by the legislation. REPRESENTATIVE TOM BRICE spoke in opposition to Amendment 1. He expressed concern that the workfare will not be effective in achieving the desired goal. He suggested that the workfare program will not result in the gain of marketable jobs. Representative Hanley disagreed that workfare programs will not encourage marketable job skills. Members discussed the introduction of House Finance Committee legislation. Representative Therriault noted support of individuals in his district for Amendment 1 to HB 409. He clarified that Fairbanks cannot be included in the demonstration project without the adoption of Amendment 1. 6 A roll call vote was taken on the motion to ADOPT AMENDMENT 1 IN FAVOR: Foster, Hanley, Martin, Parnell, Therriault, MacLean, Larson OPPOSED: Brown, Grussendorf, Hoffman Representative Navarre was not present for the vote. The MOTION PASSED (8-3). JAN HANSEN, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF MEDICAL ASSISTANCE, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES observed that the adoption of Amendment 1 would increase the cost of the legislation by $300.0 thousand dollars annually in FY 95 - 99. (Tape Change, HFC 94-69, Side 1) Representative Brown provided members with AMENDMENT 2 (copy on file). She MOVED to AMEND Amendment 2 by including, Amendment to Amendment 1 (copy on file). There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered. Representative Brown explained that Amendment 2 would create the Healthy Families Program. She stressed that the program would address a number of social problems. She noted that section 5 would provide that the program is funded through the ratable reductions in AFDC and APA. She observed that the sponsor may not support funding the program through the ratable reduction. Representative Martin asserted that the program should be reviewed by the House Health, Education and Social Services Committee. Representative Brown noted that the House Health, Education and Social Services Committee declined to entertain amendments while the bill was before their Committee. Representative Hanley did not feel that the program could be funded at this time. Representative Brown MOVED to delete section 5, Funding Intent, from AMENDMENT 2. There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered. Representative Brown WITHDREW AMENDMENT 2. She expressed her intention to offer Amendment 2 at another time. Representative Navarre MOVED to add a new paragraph to read, "(4) an area consisting of a home rule city that is contained within the boundaries of a second class borough located on a peninsula within a hundred miles of Anchorage, 7 with a population of 65,000 persons or more and the second class borough described in this paragraph." Representative Navarre WITHDREW his MOTION. Co-Chair MacLean provided members with AMENDMENT 3 (copy on file). She explained that Amendment 3 would allow the North Slope Borough to participate in the demonstration project. Representative Hanley spoke in support of Amendment 3. He noted that the Department of Health and Social Services has decided to allow all persons in rural areas to participate. There being NO OBJECTION, AMENDMENT 3 was adopted. Representative Navarre asked if the amendments adopted by the Committee would necessitate an increase in the ratable reduction. Representative Hanley stated that Amendment 3 would not result in an increase to the fiscal note. He reiterated that Amendment 1 will not result in a net increase in the ratable reduction. Representative Brown provided members with AMENDMENT 4 (copy on file). She explained that Amendment 4 would delete the ratable reduction to Adult Public Assistance (APA). She argued that the majority of APA recipients are elderly or disabled persons. She questioned if APA benefits should be reduced in order to fund the demonstration project. She pointed out that the APA client group is not in a position to benefit from the results of the demonstration project since they are unlikely to return to the work force. Representative Brice spoke in support of Amendment 4. He raised the issue of equality. He did not feel that APA clients should be asked to pay for a program that will not benefit them. Representative Brown MOVED to ADOPT AMENDMENT 4. In response to a question by Co-Chair Larson, Representative Hanley observed that APA payments are at 110 percent of the poverty level, AFDC payments are at 74 percent of the poverty level. He explained that the Department of Health and Social Services did not want the discrepancy between the two recipients to increase. He acknowledge that there are inequities in the legislation. Ms. Hansen reiterated that the Department of Health and Social Services desires that any reduction be across the board. She noted that there is a disparity between the level of payments for AFDC and APA. Representative Brown emphasized that there is little chance 8 that clients served by APA will be able to return to the work force. She noted that APA clients are unable to work. Representative Brown suggested that the program could be funded without the inclusion of APA. Members discussed anticipated revenues. Ms. Hansen noted that an appropriation from the legislature is needed to fund FY 95. She acknowledged that the ratable reduction is in excess of what is need in FY 95. She reiterated the Department's position to maintain an across the board reduction. She clarified that APA clients are living outside of state institutions. Representative Hanley OBJECTED to the adoption of AMENDMENT 4. A roll call vote was taken on the motion. IN FAVOR: Brown, Grussendorf, Hoffman, Navarre, Larson OPPOSED: Hanley, Martin, Parnell, Therriault, MacLean Representative Foster was not present for the vote. The MOTION FAILED (5-5). HB 409 was HELD in Committee for further discussion.