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News & Press: Legislative

Labor Walker Calls For Special Legislative Session on Welfare Reform

Tuesday, February 6, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Sarah Bass
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From Forbes McIntosh, Government Policy Solutions, WALA Lobbyist


Gov. Scott Walker called for a special session of the Wisconsin Legislature to pass Wisconsin Works for Everyone welfare reform legislation authored by Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senator Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield).

The legislators have drafted a package of 10 bills seeking various welfare reforms - including to the FoodShare system and the FoodShare Employment and Training (FSET) program.

Some of the proposals include:
Increase Work Requirements from 20 Hours to 30 Hours - The bill allows Wisconsin Department of Health Services to set the required hours of participation in FoodShare Employment and Training program to coincide with the maximum allowed by the federal government for both able-bodied adults with and without dependent children. Currently, 20 hours is required for able-bodied adults without dependents. It is currently allowable to require 30 hours for able-bodied adults with dependents. This bill would only impose requirements for able-bodied adults with dependents if able-bodied adults without dependents are allowed with a federal law change. This would treat both groups the same.

Statewide Work Requirements for those Receiving Food Stamps - This bill requires all able-bodied adults to include able-bodied adults with school aged dependents (six or over). This bill goes into effect on October 1, 2019 to align with the federal fiscal year. The funding for the program would be included in the 2019-21 budget.

Asset Testing for Certain Welfare Programs - Establish a limit on assets related to a primary residence such that it cannot exceed 200 percent of the statewide median value home ($321,200) for W-2, Wisconsin Shares, and FoodShare and add a $20,000 limit on the total equity value of non-work-related vehicles to Shares and Food Share. An explicit exemption for agricultural land is included in the bill. W-2 would retain current law vehicle equity value limit of $10,000. Those on currently on Wisconsin Shares would be grandfathered in. Also, allow agencies to write rules creating hardship exemptions. 

Creation of Medical Assistance Savings Accounts - This bill would require Health Services to request an amendment to its Medical Assistance waiver to allow for the creation of health savings accounts for individuals on Medical Assistance. This could build upon the current 1115 waiver amendment that is under consideration by the federal government. Elderly, blind, and disabled individuals would be excluded along with children. 

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