Legislature(1993 - 1994)
04/14/1993 03:00 PM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HJR 36: REPEAL 100-HOUR RULE FOR AFDC CHAIR BUNDE noted that Rep. Brice had a committee substitute (CS) for HJR 36 with amendments suggested by the Department of Education. He invited Rep. Brice to present his CS, after which the committee would take public testimony. REP. BRICE MOVED the committee adopt CSHJR 36 (LSO911\k) as a working document. CHAIR BUNDE asked for objections, and heard none. He invited Rep. Brice to speak to his CS. Number 052 REP. BRICE said he had a position paper from the Department of Health and Social Services, and said the CS addressed the department's concerns. He noted the sponsor statement outlining the need for the resolution and encouraging the administration to support it. He offered to answer questions. Number 067 JAN HENSEN, DIRECTOR OF THE DIVISION OF PUBLIC ASSISTANCE IN THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES, testified in Juneau in support of HJR 36. She said that the department had been considering seeking some kind of waiver of the 100- hour rule when it was considering welfare reform earlier in the year. She said her division had given a position paper to Gov. Walter Hickel, who had transferred it to President Clinton, which outlined six or seven areas in which the state hoped to see changes in welfare, including repeal of the 100-hour rule. She said that because Alaska had high pay standards, residents were discouraged from accepting full-time employment. She said encouraging the federal government to change its regulations would cost the state much less than having to go through a waiver process. (Rep. B. Davis arrived at 3:13 p.m.) REP. VEZEY asked for an explanation of the changes in the CS. REP. BRICE said that the change came on page 2, lines 9-10, asking the federal government to adopt regulations to encourage AFDC recipients to accept employment regardless of the number of hours they work, remaining eligible for benefits as long as they earned no more than the state standard of need. MS. HENSEN said that the key change was that the original bill referred to part-time employment which was already allowed. She said the most significant change permitted the state to allow AFDC recipients to accept full-time work of more than 100 hours. Number 125 REP. VEZEY said the only change seemed to be on lines 9-11, and that he did not see a big change. He asked if there were other changes. MS. HENSEN said there were changes on lines 3 and 4 that would allow AFDC recipients to accept work of more than 100 hours per month as an incentive. REP. VEZEY said he did not see that the change was necessary, but thanked Ms. Hensen anyway. Number 141 REP. G. DAVIS said the change sounded like a good idea. He asked if other states had successfully gotten such waivers. MS. HENSEN said no state had succeeded in getting the federal government to change the regulation. However, she said she believed there was a strong consensus among states for a repeal of the federal 100-hour rule. She said it did not matter to some states that pay very little, and in some Southern states where pay is low, people working 100 hours a week (month) would not qualify for welfare. It is more of an issue in states with more moderate payment standards. She said the pressure from a variety of forces and states seeking repeal of the rule could persuade the federal government to drop it, she said. Number 161 CHAIR BUNDE asked what the resolution would actually accomplish. MS. HENSEN said that if the resolution did not work, the state would next seek a waiver of the rule. She said the state strategy was to influence the federal government, as the 100-hour rule was not in statute, but in regulation. She said Alaska, other states, and some advocacy think-tanks believed that the Clinton administration could make the change. She said efforts to influence the rule were not a futile exercise. Number 174 REP. VEZEY asked the minimum wage a person could accept in a full-time job and justify getting off public assistance. MS. HENSEN asked if the question was how much income would put a person over the needs standard. Number 182 REP. VEZEY said no, but no one would have the economic incentive to leave welfare rolls and work for the minimum wage, as it would be a cut in income. He asked how much a full-time job would have to pay to induce a person to leave public assistance. MS. HENSEN said she did not have that figure, but could get it for him. She said she could calculate the break-even point, and said a department study on welfare's impact on self-sufficiency showed what welfare recipients said they needed to get off public assistance. Number 198 REP. BRICE noted that an article reporting the welfare and dependency study was present in the bill packets for HJR 36. MS. HENSEN said that, as reported on page 14 of the article, 11 percent of clients said a monthly salary of up to $1,100 would be enough to make them drop welfare; 14 percent said from $1,100 and $1,300; 21 percent said $1,300 to $1,500; and 21 percent said they required at least $2,000 per month before they would give up welfare benefits. CHAIR BUNDE said that 21 percent of the clients responding could leave welfare to work for the legislature. Number 216 REP. VEZEY added that he would divide the monthly pay levels by 173 hours to arrive at an hourly wage. REP. OLBERG said that $1,100 per month equalled about $6 per hour. Number 226 CHAIR BUNDE asked for any other questions or testimony on the measure, then asked the pleasure of the committee. REP. B. DAVIS MOVED PASSAGE OF CSHJR 36 FROM THE COMMITTEE WITH INDIVIDUAL RECOMMENDATIONS. CHAIR BUNDE called for objections and, hearing none, declared CSHJR 36 PASSED FROM THE COMMITTEE WITH INDIVIDUAL RECOMMENDATIONS. He then brought HB 106 to the table.