Legislature(1993 - 1994)
02/02/1994 02:20 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATOR HALFORD introduced HJR 36 (REPEAL 100 HOUR RULE FOR AID TO FAMILIES TO DEPENDENT CHILDREN PROGRAM), and invited the prime sponsor, REPRESENTATIVE TOM BRICE, to testify. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE explained the federal Department of Health and Human Services has developed and implemented regulations relating to the Aid to Families with Dependent Children Unemployed Parent Program, setting the number of hours at 100 per month, a grant recipient can work and still maintain eligibility for the program. If a job that exceeds 100 hours per month is accepted by the unemployed parent, the family becomes ineligible for AFDC and Medicaid even if employment earnings are less than the amount of the AFDC grant. He further explained how repealing the 100 hour rule would allow those families to accept employment that exceeds 100 hours per month that may partially support them, reduce the amount of aid they receive, promote self sufficiency, and save state dollars at the same time. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE said there was a federal welfare reform working group meeting to formulate recommendations to be included in a welfare reform package and indications suggest the repeal of the 100 hour rule would be one of the recommendations. He felt it was important the State of Alaska supported this element of welfare reform. Number 499 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE offered to answer questions or refer the questions to persons attending from the Division of Public Assistance. SENATOR HALFORD, while approving basically of the legislation, asked about adding more incentive for the program. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE said SENATOR HALFORD'S points had not been considered, but he was interested in dealing with the incentives as proposed by SENATOR HALFORD. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE said CURTIS LOMAS, Program Officer for the Division of Public Assistance in the Department of Health and Social Services, might be able to suggest some ways to make SENATOR HALFORD'S ideas work. SENATOR HALFORD explained it might not be possible under the title, but he would like to work in that direction. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE thought the title was fairly tight, and SENATOR HALFORD agreed. SENATOR LITTLE asked REPRESENTATIVE BRICE whether he had seen any of the polls as to what is happening in Washington as far as Welfare Reform. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE said, in talking to SENATOR STEVENS' office, a precise proposal has not been issued, and he again mentioned the presidential task force on welfare reform that is meeting to formulate recommendations. SENATOR HALFORD referred to the end of the Resolve Clause .... "as long as the amount of their income does not exceed the state's standard of need," to wonder whether it could be changed to reflect dissatisfaction with the "standard of need" provision. He thinks the gap on the incentive side should be changed, and he suggested someone from the department could explain his proposed change. CURTIS LOMAS, representing the Division of Public Assistance, addressed SENATOR HALFORD'S question about the gap and admitted difficulty in calculating AFDC benefit payments, but he did agree with SENATOR HALFORD'S understanding of the income threshold for eligibility for the program. He continued to explain eligibility for the program, benefits, and the calculation for the needs standard. He explained the state calculated the gap as the difference between the standard of need and the maximum payment level the state has in effect. He also explained HB 67 last year, for the first time, created a small gap in the State of Alaska - $25 for a family of two. TAPE 93-4, SIDE B Number 001 MR. LOMAS continued to describe the computation of the gap and the disregards involved. He said the payment gap was only one way to provide incentives for people to earn money, and he explained the specific disregards. SENATOR HALFORD said he called all of the disregards the gap, what you can do without losing payments and medical. MR. CURTIS pointed out the 100-hour rule was a regulation the Department of Health and Social Services has the authority to repeal or modify, and he said the payment gap was imbedded in federal statute and requires congressional action to change. He suggested the committee keep their focus specifically on the 100- hour rule. SENATOR HALFORD questioned the State's part in the standard of need, and MR. LOMAS reiterated the State did not have the authority to modify those time limited disregards. SENATOR HALFORD asked for a motion to move the bill. SENATOR LITTLE moved to pass HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 36 (REPEAL 100 HOUR RULE FOR AFDC PROGRAM) from committee with individual recommendations. Without objections, so ordered.