Legislature(2001 - 2002)

02/14/2002 03:02 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 402-ALASKA TEMPORARY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM                                                                                    
Number 0259                                                                                                                     
CHAIR DYSON  announced the  first order of  business to  be HOUSE                                                               
BILL  NO.  402, "An  Act  relating  to diversion  payments,  wage                                                               
subsidies,   cash  assistance,   and  self-sufficiency   services                                                               
provided under the Alaska  temporary assistance program; relating                                                               
to the food  stamp program; relating to child  support cases that                                                               
include persons  who receive cash assistance  or self-sufficiency                                                               
services  under  the  Alaska temporary  assistance  program;  and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
CHAIR DYSON  stated that  Sandie Hoback  would be  presenting the                                                               
bill [which  was sponsored by  the HHES]  to the committee.   She                                                               
oversaw changes  to Oregon's public  assistance program.   Public                                                               
assistance  funds  in that  state  were  redirected to  subsidize                                                               
wages for workers.                                                                                                              
Number 0422                                                                                                                     
SANDIE  HOBACK, Independent  Consultant,  American Institute  for                                                               
Full  Employment, testified  via teleconference.   She  indicated                                                               
that  the American  Institute for  Full Employment  conducted the                                                               
assessment of  Alaska's welfare-reform efforts at  the request of                                                               
Senator Lyda  Green and  Representative Fred  Dyson.   The report                                                               
outlines    five   legislative    recommendations,   which    are                                                               
incorporated into HB  402.  The first recommendation  is to amend                                                               
the  state statute  to  allow  for use  of  the full  flexibility                                                               
permitted under federal law to  extend benefits to some long-term                                                               
recipients.  She  explained that rather than  having an arbitrary                                                               
20  percent cap,  the department  should use  narrow criteria  to                                                               
extend benefits to people beyond the 60-month time limit.                                                                       
MS.  HOBACK offered  that the  second recommendation  changes the                                                               
way  in which  sanctions  are  imposed upon  people  who fail  to                                                               
comply  with the  program.   The report  advocates a  progressive                                                               
sanction system  that includes different  stages, but  allows the                                                               
state  to close  the case  when  clients are  noncompliant.   The                                                               
current  system takes  40  percent  of the  grant  away from  the                                                               
family.    She said  that  the  first instance  of  noncompliance                                                               
allows for immediate  restoration of funds upon  compliance.  The                                                               
second  instance  of  noncompliance, under  the  current  system,                                                               
automatically imposes  a 6-month waiting period  after compliance                                                               
before the  restoration of  funds.   The third  penalty is  a 12-                                                               
month waiting  period.  She  noted that this current  system does                                                               
not provide incentive for cooperation.   The 60-month "time clock                                                               
continues to tick"  while the adult is noncompliant.   The system                                                               
proposed in HB 402 stops  the time clock during noncompliance; it                                                               
also   calls  for   immediate   restoration   of  benefits   upon                                                               
compliance.   She  added  that  she thought  this  to  be a  more                                                               
family-friendly sanction system.                                                                                                
Number 0639                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  DYSON requested  examples  of  compliant and  noncompliant                                                               
MS. HOBACK responded that a  noncompliant client would be one who                                                               
did not attend assigned work  activities.  Each client receives a                                                               
plan that  includes "showing up".   A client who does  not follow                                                               
this plan  is subject  to sanctions.   She  pointed out  that the                                                               
department might  provide more examples of  behavior that invokes                                                               
Number 0708                                                                                                                     
MS.  HOBACK  said  the  third recommendation  is  to  enable  the                                                               
provision of  services to working  families whose income  may not                                                               
be enough  [to meet  the family's  needs].   Except for  the time                                                               
limit, these families would still  be eligible for some benefits.                                                               
The  time limit  would prevent  the family  from receiving  those                                                               
benefits   and  could   therefore   destabilize  the   employment                                                               
situation and could subsequently result  in job loss.  House Bill                                                               
402  addresses  self-sufficiency  services  and  allows  for  the                                                               
services  to  be  provided to  low-income,  working  families  to                                                               
enable them to stay at work.                                                                                                    
MS.  HOBACK  furnished  that  the  fourth  recommendation  is  to                                                               
strengthen the  diversion program.   Currently, the  division can                                                               
give up  to two  months' worth of  benefits upfront,  rather than                                                               
put the  person on full cash  assistance.  This allows  people to                                                               
receive extra  help in securing a  job, and it keeps  them out of                                                               
the   public   assistance  program.      She   stated  that   the                                                               
recommendation  is to  increase this  to three  months' worth  of                                                               
benefits.    She noted  that  division  staff had  indicated  two                                                               
months'  benefits   might  not   be  enough  incentive   in  many                                                               
situations; the diversion program  is currently used very little.                                                               
She  offered that  her  work with  the  division on  implementing                                                               
management   recommendations  would   couple  with   this  fourth                                                               
recommendation to  strengthen "that upfront process".   She said,                                                               
"From the  very first day  a client  walks into the  office, they                                                               
begin in  a concerted employment strategy,  and diversion becomes                                                               
a real key  to that."  Many people's employment  needs can be met                                                               
early on, and they never need be enrolled in the program.                                                                       
Number 0874                                                                                                                     
MS. HOBACK stated  that the fifth recommendation  is to authorize                                                               
a  more complete  wage-subsidy program  that targets  the private                                                               
sector.    This worked  successfully  in  Oregon when  the  state                                                               
cashed out  the food  stamp and  cash benefits  and used  them to                                                               
reimburse  private-sector  employers.     These  employers  hired                                                               
clients   in  training   positions   and,   in  many   instances,                                                               
subsequently hired them into the  business.  She said this worked                                                               
well for  clients, and it  became an economic stimulus  piece for                                                               
small businesses.  This program  allowed small businesses to test                                                               
expansion  plans;  businesses  often   expanded  after  the  wage                                                               
subsidy was terminated.  She  concluded, "It really became a win-                                                               
win [situation]. ...  I think it's a really important  piece to a                                                               
comprehensive program".                                                                                                         
Number 0977                                                                                                                     
CHAIR DYSON  asked Ms. Hoback  about proposed changes to  the 20-                                                               
percent cap on benefit extensions.  He then added:                                                                              
     I  have some  small  concern that  ...  if there's  not                                                                    
     enough  industry in  the  small  community where  those                                                                    
     people live to give a  reasonable expectation of a job,                                                                    
     that we ought  to be doing something to  encourage - or                                                                    
     even enable  - the folks  to move where there  are more                                                                    
     employment opportunities.   Did  you ... run  into that                                                                    
     in Oregon?                                                                                                                 
MS. HOBACK  responded, "Not  nearly to the  extent that  you have                                                               
that issue  in Alaska."  She  noted that rural pockets  in Oregon                                                               
do have  some similarities, and  people were encouraged  to move.                                                               
She added  that Alaska has  complex cultural issues.   She agreed                                                               
with Chair Dyson, saying, "Everything  possible should be done to                                                               
encourage people to move where there is ... employment."                                                                        
Number 1029                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON asked  whether  assessments  to measure  a                                                               
client's job strengths and interests were administered.                                                                         
MS. HOBACK  offered that  one of the  tenets of  the "work-first"                                                               
approach is  that the labor market  is the best determinant  of a                                                               
client's employability.   She  indicated that  administering many                                                               
"high-intensity, paper  kinds of assessments"  has been  shown by                                                               
research  to be  an  inaccurate indicator  of employability;  she                                                               
advocates using  the labor market as  an employability indicator.                                                               
It is important, she acknowledged,  to assess what people want to                                                               
do  and  then place  them  in  the  most  appropriate job.    She                                                               
summarized by saying:                                                                                                           
     People should be consulted, and  they should be able to                                                                    
     look for  jobs that  they really  want to  do.   At the                                                                    
     same time,  I think, you  really need to shy  away from                                                                    
     doing  extensive kinds  of  vocational assessments,  at                                                                    
        least at the beginning of this process until the                                                                        
        person really has had a chance to test the labor                                                                        
     market and learn from that experience.                                                                                     
Number 1126                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  JOULE inquired  whether  Ms.  Hoback worked  with                                                               
other departments, such as the  Department of Education and Early                                                               
Development,  to   coordinate  [these  proposed  changes].     He                                                               
mentioned  that this  would give  young  people a  chance to  see                                                               
potential opportunities.                                                                                                        
Number 1150                                                                                                                     
MS. HOBACK explained that in  Oregon, a more holistic approach to                                                               
the family  was taken.   "We  were very  much involved  with K-12                                                               
education,  involved  with making  sure  that  the children  were                                                               
attending school, those  kinds of things," she said.   The Oregon                                                               
program included  special activities targeting children  in these                                                               
families.   She observed that  she had  not witnessed as  many of                                                               
these kinds of activities in Alaska.                                                                                            
Number 1187                                                                                                                     
CHAIR DYSON requested  a "snapshot of success"  of the work-first                                                               
initiative in Oregon.                                                                                                           
MS.  HOBACK  reported  that  Oregon's   program  was  studied  by                                                               
Manpower  Demonstration Research  Corporation, an  employment and                                                               
training research group.  This  study found that, for a statewide                                                               
program,  Oregon produced  some of  the best  results in  helping                                                               
people obtain and  keep jobs and increase their  wages.  Oregon's                                                               
has  become  known as  the  best  welfare-reform program  in  the                                                               
country, she said; she speculated that  this was due to the work-                                                               
first  approach  and bringing  in  the  right kind  of  partners.                                                               
Oregon reduced  its [public assistance]  caseload by  65 percent,                                                               
she supplied.                                                                                                                   
Number 1263                                                                                                                     
CHAIR DYSON inquired how the  Oregon program recruited businesses                                                               
to participate as employers.                                                                                                    
MS. HOBACK replied  that the Oregon program  had a private-sector                                                               
"champion".  This business encouraged  other businesses to become                                                               
involved  in  the  program.    Utilizing  this  business  as  the                                                               
private-sector outreach proved to  be very effective, she pointed                                                               
out.    Prior  to  their involvement,  many  of  these  employers                                                               
disliked and distrusted government-subsidy  programs.  The Oregon                                                               
reform workers  adopted the perspective  of the employer  to make                                                               
the program as simple as possible.                                                                                              
Number 1330                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  DYSON  asked,  "Did organizations  like  the  chambers  of                                                               
commerce ... work with you?"                                                                                                    
MS. HOBACK said:                                                                                                                
     They absolutely  did.  We  made a real effort  to reach                                                                    
     out  to  the  chambers  and  to  the  various  business                                                                    
     organizations  within communities.   And  many of  them                                                                    
     embraced this  totally and did  a lot of  the marketing                                                                    
     for us.                                                                                                                    
Number 1346                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE    JOULE   inquired    whether   these    business                                                               
partnerships  were established  before or  after the  legislation                                                               
was submitted.                                                                                                                  
MS. HOBACK  answered, "Both."   Groundwork  had been  laid before                                                               
the legislation, and then the  legislation was a catalyst to "get                                                               
on with it."                                                                                                                    
Number 1400                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL stated  that  Alaska  has many  nonprofit                                                               
organizations that  depend heavily  on federal and  state monies.                                                               
"This  would be  one more  subsidy," he  offered.   He asked  how                                                               
Oregon had dealt with this issue.                                                                                               
MS. HOBACK replied that Oregon  might not have comparable numbers                                                               
of private  nonprofits.   Oregon did,  however, use  this program                                                               
with  its nonprofits.   The  Oregon program  targeted the  small-                                                               
business sector,  because this is  where people would  find jobs.                                                               
Alaska, on  the other  hand, must assess  this as  a "situational                                                               
Number 1469                                                                                                                     
CHAIR DYSON asked about labor unions as partners.                                                                               
MS.  HOBACK   answered  that  labor  unions   did  not  initially                                                               
understand  the  program  and were  concerned  it  would  replace                                                               
existing  labor.    After program  workers  clarified  that  this                                                               
program  was  about new  work  opportunities,  labor unions  were                                                               
predominantly supportive, she stated.                                                                                           
Number 1511                                                                                                                     
CHAIR DYSON inquired  whether jobs created in  the Oregon program                                                               
were primarily low-skilled, low-paying jobs.                                                                                    
MS.  HOBACK replied,  "Actually, it  ran the  gamut."   Employers                                                               
were reimbursed at the minimum-wage  level; Oregon's minimum wage                                                               
is $6.50, the highest in  the nation.  Employers could supplement                                                               
that  amount and  often paid  workers  significantly higher  than                                                               
minimum wage.   The  average wage for  program workers  was about                                                               
$8.25 an hour,  she furnished; some were making  $12.00 to $14.00                                                               
an hour, and some were paid minimum wage.                                                                                       
Number 1571                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE   COGHILL  requested   her   perspective  on   the                                                               
program's inclusion  of workforce development  or "career-ladder"                                                               
MS.  HOBACK replied  that the  Oregon program  included workforce                                                               
development.   She noted the  need to integrate  funding sources.                                                               
"We  did a  fair  amount of  experimentation  around the  career-                                                               
ladder idea,  she said.  "How  do you bring somebody  in[to]... a                                                               
nursing home  position, and then ...  move them up into  a higher                                                               
professional  sort of  a nursing  situation?"   Program  managers                                                               
worked  with community  colleges  and industry  to develop  those                                                               
career  ladders  while  keeping  a   client  on  the  job.    She                                                               
acknowledged that  Oregon is still  working on this facet  of the                                                               
program; it is  a complex component, but  must be part-and-parcel                                                               
of this whole agenda.                                                                                                           
Number 1650                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON  inquired whether  the Oregon  program paid                                                               
for schooling, such as training a nurse's aide.                                                                                 
MS.  HOBACK responded  that the  program allowed  for short-term,                                                               
targeted  vocational  training.    She  explained  that  specific                                                               
training  was  provided  upon assurance  of  employment  in  that                                                               
field.    Research  has  shown  it is  important  to  get  people                                                               
employed  as quickly  as  possible;  long-term training  programs                                                               
generally don't work  as well for this population.   She reported                                                               
that  the most  effective  approach  included providing  minimal,                                                               
necessary training for entry-level  positions and then augmenting                                                               
a  client's work  experience with  training  designed to  upgrade                                                               
his/her skills.                                                                                                                 
Number 1717                                                                                                                     
CHAIR DYSON asked about the  time limit for subsidized employment                                                               
for an individual.                                                                                                              
MS. HOBACK  replied that  six months was  the limit  for training                                                               
CHAIR DYSON  asked, "Did  you find [that]  many employers  at the                                                               
end of the six months ... eliminated the position?"                                                                             
MS.  HOBACK  answered that  most  of  the employers  hired  their                                                               
employees  after  the  subsidy  expired.    The  placement  rate,                                                               
including clients who  stayed in the same position  and those who                                                               
applied their skills to a new  position, was over 80 percent, she                                                               
offered.  "I  think that's even more impressive  when you realize                                                               
the folks  that we put  into those jobs  ... were the  folks that                                                               
had  ...  the   most  challenges  [and]  the   most  barriers  to                                                               
employment," she added.                                                                                                         
Number 1769                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  DYSON commented  that many  Alaskan jobs  are seasonal  in                                                               
nature.  He asked about Oregon's experience with seasonal work.                                                                 
MS. HOBACK answered,  "Yes. We have a fair  amount of seasonality                                                               
in the employment here."   She recounted her experience in Sitka,                                                               
where she received feedback indicating  that this type of program                                                               
might  serve  as a  "bridge"  for  employers in  the  off-season.                                                               
Employers,  enabled  by the  wage  subsidy,  could train  workers                                                               
during this time and prepare them for the summer season.                                                                        
CHAIR   DYSON  asked   whether  clients   in  Oregon   worked  in                                                               
agriculture or fish processing.                                                                                                 
MS. HOBACK  said yes; clients  were placed  in any kind  of work,                                                               
including agriculture, food processing, and fishing.                                                                            
Number 1855                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL   asked  if  Oregon's   program  included                                                               
accountability  measures   and  progressive  sanctions,   and  he                                                               
inquired about the incidence of the sanctions' imposition.                                                                      
MS. HOBACK affirmed  that Oregon's program did use  both of these                                                               
elements.   She  explained that  the sanction  rate decreased  in                                                               
most parts of Oregon.  She  ascertained that this was because "we                                                               
were able to get people's attention much quicker."                                                                              
Number 1906                                                                                                                     
JIM   NORDLUND,   Director,   Division  of   Public   Assistance,                                                               
Department of Health and Social  Services, offered the division's                                                               
perspective  on  the  proposed   legislation.    He  thanked  the                                                               
committee for sponsoring HB 402  and noted the division's support                                                               
of it.  However, the division  does have some concerns about some                                                               
of the provisions.  He  recounted that the division personnel did                                                               
have  some  initial  apprehension  about the  assessment  of  the                                                               
welfare  program;   they  are,  nonetheless,  pleased   with  the                                                               
results.   He offered that  this success  was largely due  to Ms.                                                               
Hoback's knowledge and  expertise.  "In the end,  what we thought                                                               
was going  to be a  bad thing, frankly, turned  out to be  a good                                                               
thing,"  he  said.    "And  the recommendations  have  a  lot  of                                                               
veracity."   He  noted  that  many of  the  proposed changes  are                                                               
operational; the  division has hired  Ms. Hoback as  a consultant                                                               
to assist in the implementation of these changes.                                                                               
Number 1985                                                                                                                     
MR. NORDLUND observed that last  year the division was advocating                                                               
for the  change recommended  in the first  provision.   He stated                                                               
that  this  provision is  the  most  important to  the  division.                                                               
Victims of  domestic violence,  families with  disabled children,                                                               
or parents  with disabilities often  need extended benefits.   He                                                               
predicted  that in  the next  two years,  the number  of families                                                               
needing  assistance beyond  the 60-month  time limit  will exceed                                                               
the 20-percent cap.  Objective,  strict criteria would instead be                                                               
used to identify families needing extended benefits.                                                                            
Number 2051                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  DYSON  expressed  his  concern  that  people  without  the                                                               
aforementioned hardships  and who are  able to work, but  who are                                                               
living  in  places without  employment,  could  have a  taxpayer-                                                               
subsidized lifestyle.   He said, "How do we go  about making that                                                               
judgment, of  finally, when we  say, 'No more living  at taxpayer                                                               
expense;   you  need   to  relocate   where   there's  some   job                                                               
opportunities.'  How do we make that call?"                                                                                     
MR. NORDLUND replied that protections  against that were the time                                                               
limit  and  the  requirement  that clients  participate  in  work                                                               
activities.   People who  might qualify  for a  subsidy extension                                                               
aren't  necessarily exempt  from  work activities.   People  with                                                               
disabilities who  are able  to work are  expected to  pursue work                                                               
activities.  Sanctions would be imposed  if they failed to do so,                                                               
he stated.                                                                                                                      
CHAIR DYSON asked, "Do you, in  your policy, say that a bona fide                                                               
work activity is to move where there's a job?"                                                                                  
MR. NORDLUND  responded that  the division  has helped  people to                                                               
relocate to find employment.                                                                                                    
Number 2112                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  JOULE noted  his concern  with forcing  people to                                                               
move.  He pointed out  that hub communities offer more employment                                                               
opportunities.  "Would job-sharing work?"  he asked.  "That would                                                               
enable  people to  live in  their community  but work  in another                                                               
community and  still bring  that income back."   He  stressed the                                                               
need to  look beyond  simply moving  people and  to seek  ways to                                                               
help  people "have  value" and  bring  that value  back to  their                                                               
MR. NORDLUND agreed that this was  an excellent idea and a way to                                                               
take advantage of seasonal employment  opportunities.  This could                                                               
be made a part of a family's self-sufficiency plan.                                                                             
Number 2175                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  DYSON said,  "There's no  way  that anyone's  in favor  of                                                               
forcing somebody  to move."   He acknowledged the  need, however,                                                               
to  address the  issue  of  people wishing  to  live at  taxpayer                                                               
expense  and  unwilling  to  relocate to  gain  employment.    He                                                               
queried,  "What's the  administration's  policy?   How  do we  go                                                               
about making those decisions?"                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  JOULE suggested  that HB  402  is a  step in  the                                                               
right direction.   Similarly, people  receiving services  need to                                                               
change  their  thinking.   People  living  near  hub  communities                                                               
should be  looking for opportunities  in these hubs,  he offered;                                                               
employers  also need  to look  at  job-sharing opportunities  for                                                               
Number 2236                                                                                                                     
MR. NORDLUND added that the  wage subsidy would provide employers                                                               
with incentive  to hire people  off the public  assistance rolls.                                                               
He then  continued with  his analysis  of the  bill's provisions.                                                               
The  second provision  changes  how sanctions  are  imposed.   He                                                               
noted the  general agreement that  the current system  offers few                                                               
incentives   for  compliance;   an  immediate   reinstatement  of                                                               
benefits upon  compliance is the  best incentive.  He  noted that                                                               
some concern  exists in the  division pertaining to  the complete                                                               
family  sanction for  noncompliance; this  program benefits  poor                                                               
families  -  the  children  are most  harmed  when  benefits  are                                                               
completely taken away.  He said:                                                                                                
     We feel  that we  have worked  with you,  Mr. Chairman,                                                                    
     and  think we  put some  provisions in  the legislation                                                                    
     that  would provide  ... adequate  protections to  make                                                                    
     sure that a family  isn't inadvertently cut off because                                                                    
     of poor  casework, that there's  proper review  to make                                                                    
     sure that  if a family  is completely cut off,  that we                                                                    
     know   the    circumstances   of   the    family   and,                                                                    
     particularly, what  will happen to those  children, and                                                                    
     if it's  determined that ...  the children  truly could                                                                    
     be harmed  if the benefit  is completely cut  off, that                                                                    
     we would take measures  to help protect those children,                                                                    
     one of  which could  be ...  making direct  payments to                                                                    
     landlords to pay the rent.  ... That's the apprehensive                                                                    
MR. NORDLUND continued:                                                                                                         
     The positive side is ...  that without being able to go                                                                    
     to  a full-family  sanction, ...  our  own workers  ...                                                                    
     have seen situations where there  are some clients, and                                                                    
     not very many,  who ride those sanctions  out, and just                                                                    
     say, "We're not going to  have anything to do with you.                                                                    
     Don't bother me."   And there's really  nothing more we                                                                    
     can do  about it.   We think we need  to be able  to do                                                                    
     more  to help  bring families  into compliance.  ... We                                                                    
     didn't  propose   to  have  in  here   the  full-family                                                                    
     sanction.  But  we would not necessarily  oppose it, as                                                                    
     long as those protections are in the bill.                                                                                 
MR. NORDLUND noted  that the third thing that  Ms. Hoback brought                                                               
up was the  ability to continue to  provide work-related services                                                               
to families.                                                                                                                    
TAPE 02-10, SIDE B                                                                                                              
Number 2445                                                                                                                     
MR. NORDLUND said:                                                                                                              
     We have thought about putting  this kind of language in                                                                    
     legislation before.   And now, particularly,  as we ...                                                                    
     get closer to the 60-month  limit, we see that we might                                                                    
     want  to  provide  work-related [support]  to  families                                                                    
     that does not trigger the  clock.  We thought that that                                                                    
     would be a good thing to do.                                                                                               
MR. NORDLUND continued:                                                                                                         
     The bill does  go on; the bill is quite  thick, and one                                                                    
     of  the  reasons  is  that   ...  every  time  that  we                                                                    
     reference "assistance"  in the statute, we  had to make                                                                    
     the   distinction  between   what   is  ongoing,   cash                                                                    
     assistance,  i.e.,  the  welfare  check,  versus  self-                                                                    
     sufficiency   services,    which   is    helping   with                                                                    
     transportation, with child care,  those kinds of things                                                                    
     that help  the family stay  on the  job.  So,  we think                                                                    
     that's an important provision of the bill.                                                                                 
MR. NORDLUND offered that the  fourth change is relatively minor.                                                               
It allows  a diversion  payment of up  to three  months' benefits                                                               
instead of  two months'  benefits.  He  emphasized that  the real                                                               
issue  is how  the  department will  "operationalize that  taking                                                               
advantage of the  diversion program."  The  department is working                                                               
with  Ms.  Hoback on  this  matter  to  ensure a  strong,  "work-                                                               
oriented, upfront  process" is  in place.   He  acknowledged that                                                               
the department  currently has an  eligibility focus upfront.   He                                                               
said, "We want to  make sure ... that all of  our staff is asking                                                               
the question  when somebody  comes in for  assistance:   'Why are                                                               
you really  here?  Do  you really need to  go on assistance?   Is                                                               
there some way we  can help you to move down the  road and not go                                                               
onto the  program?'"   He offered that  before welfare  reform, a                                                               
client coming  in due to car  trouble, for example, would  be put                                                               
on  the program  to help  him/her fix  the car.   Currently,  the                                                               
diversion program helps keep them off the program.                                                                              
Number 2278                                                                                                                     
MR.  NORDLUND  stated  that the  department  supports  the  fifth                                                               
provision, providing  for a  wage subsidy.   He pointed  out that                                                               
provisions  in   the  law  already   exist  to   authorize  "work                                                               
supplementation"  with the  temporary-assistance benefit.   House                                                               
Bill 402 additionally allows food  stamp benefits to be converted                                                               
to cash for  a wage subsidy.  He added  that the department needs                                                               
to  do  a  better  job  "operationalizing"  this;  it  cannot  be                                                               
completely  solved  with  legislation.     He  expressed  concern                                                               
regarding  the use  of food  stamps, because  the federal  agency                                                               
administering this program is very  restrictive.  "It's, frankly,                                                               
a bit of  a nightmare to work  with those folks," he  said.  Food                                                               
stamp benefits  cannot be taxed;  if the  benefit is paid  to the                                                               
client in  the form of  wages, that income  cannot be taxed.   He                                                               
noted  that there  are some  administrative  problems with  this.                                                               
But he  added that Oregon  was able  to accomplish this,  and the                                                               
division is willing to make these changes.                                                                                      
Number 2207                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  DYSON   asked  Ms.  Hoback   about  how  to   measure  the                                                               
department's   success  in   using  the   work-first  subsidized-                                                               
employment model.                                                                                                               
MS.  HOBACK   replied,  "I   don't  know   that  you'd   want  to                                                               
specifically put  that measurement in  the statute.  I  think the                                                               
important things are  the ... hard outcomes that  you are putting                                                               
in there, and  this program should just be another  tool in order                                                               
to  accomplish that."    She added  that  the Oregon  legislature                                                               
required  her to  report annually  on  the subsidy  program.   An                                                               
annual report by the department  to the legislature could provide                                                               
members  with information  such as  the number  of people  in the                                                               
program, types  of employers  being used,  average wage,  and how                                                               
many people received jobs as a result of the program.                                                                           
Number 2142                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON  asked Ms. Hoback whether  seasonal workers                                                               
who  applied  for unemployment  following  the  work season  were                                                               
counted as a success in the program.                                                                                            
MS. HOBACK  responded that the  client's initial  placement would                                                               
have been  counted a success.   She noted that once  a client was                                                               
earning  minimum  wage  at  a   full-time  position,  he/she  was                                                               
ineligible for cash-assistance  benefits in Oregon.   If that job                                                               
is lost, the client becomes  eligible for unemployment insurance,                                                               
which is administered by another  system.  She said, "Unless they                                                               
exhaust those benefits and then come  back to us and are eligible                                                               
for our  program, we  probably wouldn't  have any  involvement in                                                               
that family."                                                                                                                   
Number 2072                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL asked  Mr. Nordlund  about the  effect of                                                               
the subsidized work program on the 60-month benefit limit.                                                                      
MR.  NORDLUND replied  that he  believed that  if the  benefit is                                                               
being paid out  in the form of  a subsidy, and if  the portion of                                                               
HB  402   passes  that  distinguishes  between   cash  and  self-                                                               
sufficiency  services, it  would  be considered  self-sufficiency                                                               
services and the "clock would not be ticking."                                                                                  
MS. HOBACK agreed that this is indeed true.                                                                                     
Number 2026                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE   COGHILL   expressed    his   concern   regarding                                                               
nonprofits and that this might  become a "make work" program that                                                               
will extend the program beyond control.                                                                                         
MR.  NORDLUND answered,  "The very  fundamental thing  that we're                                                               
trying to  do with  families is  not to 'make  work.'"   He noted                                                               
that this  work might be an  entry-level job, and it  will have a                                                               
six-month  limit  on   it.    The  department  wants   to  see  a                                                               
progression from  a temporary,  entry-level job  to higher-paying                                                               
jobs that do  not require a subsidy.  He  referred to performance                                                               
measures developed  with the finance committee  which ensure that                                                               
progression and  said, "Frankly,  we'd be failing  in one  of our                                                               
performance  measures  if we  took  too  much advantage  of  that                                                               
program and just made it ... 'make work' opportunities."                                                                        
Number 1971                                                                                                                     
CHAIR DYSON  pointed out that  he has  worked with Ms.  Hoback to                                                               
put those  kinds of  performance measures  into the  missions and                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  asked about ways in  statute to encourage                                                               
the development  of the career-ladder  idea.  He noted  that many                                                               
employers  are  in  need  of   employees;  he  acknowledged  that                                                               
Representative  Joule's  idea  of  job sharing  is  one  creative                                                               
solution  to  address  the  issue  of  getting  people  into  the                                                               
Number 1930                                                                                                                     
MR.  NORDLUND  suggested  that  the  members  should  "feel  some                                                               
comfort" that performance measures are  now in place to show wage                                                               
progression, which is tantamount to career progression.                                                                         
Number 1920                                                                                                                     
WILLIAM CRAIG  asked what  will happen to  disabled people  [as a                                                               
result of HB 402].                                                                                                              
CHAIR DYSON responded that a disabled  person who is able to work                                                               
would  have  a  better  opportunity to  gain  employment  through                                                               
subsidized employment.                                                                                                          
Number 1873                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE JOULE asked about the intent to move HB 402.                                                                     
CHAIR DYSON indicated that it is his intention to move HB 402.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  JOULE  also asked  about  the  next committee  of                                                               
referral.   He pointed out that  when HB 402 was  noticed, it had                                                               
no  number  designation.   This  may  have impeded  communication                                                               
about the bill to constituents.                                                                                                 
Number 1822                                                                                                                     
CHAIR DYSON responded that the bill  will go to the House Finance                                                               
Standing  Committee next.   He  added that  members saw  the bill                                                               
before it was filed; there is  a companion bill in the Senate, SB                                                               
293, which is an identical bill.   It is scheduled to be heard in                                                               
the  Senate  Health,  Education   and  Social  Services  Standing                                                               
Committee on February 22.                                                                                                       
Number 1782                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  moved to report  HB 402 out  of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes.   There  being no  objection, HB  402 moved  out of  House                                                               
Health, Education and Social Services Standing Committee.                                                                       
CHAIR DYSON  extended his  appreciation to  Mr. Nordlund  and Ms.                                                               

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