Update: Bills pulled from Mar. 11 agenda

Important update: At about 4:15 p.m. on Monday, March 10, the House HHS committee informed the public that HF2678 and HF2599 would be removed from tomorrow’s agenda (for now). It was implied that the Department of Human Services (run by the governor) told the chair that it would too hard to program the computers to undo these cuts. We are supposed to have 3 branches of government, right? Anyhow, stay tuned.

Two of our bills will be heard on Tuesday, March 11. Please come and show support!

On Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 10:00 a.m., in 200-SOB, the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee will take testimony on two bills to benefit poor families: HF2678 and HF2599. These bills both move up the implementation dates of victories from last year. They put money in the pockets of poor families in the form of small increases to the cash MFIP grants. These small increases would be the first since 1986 – 28 years ago.

HF2678 deals with the repeal of the so-called “family cap.” This law was repealed last year, but unfortunately with an implementation date of January 1, 2015. The family cap, passed under the Pawlenty administration, made it so the families’ cash welfare grant did not go up when a baby was born into the family. The cash grant goes up very little with the addition of a child (a family of 3 gets $532 in cash; a family of 4 gets $619, an extra $87). When it passed into law, it did so by catering to nasty myths and stereotypes about families on MFIP. We feel that this law serves to punish babies for being born, and it’s repeal is long, long overdue.

HF2599 moves up the implementation date last year’s housing allowance victory from October 2015, to July of this year. We were very disappointed last year when, after 27 years without an increase to the welfare grants, that were told to wait until October 2015. 27 years was too long to wait, and 29 years is unacceptable. While the housing allowance will only affect about two-thirds of the families on MFIP, it will go some way to decreasing families’ suffering.

Welfare (MFIP) cash grants for the poorest families have not been increased since 1986 – 28 years ago. The cost of living has doubled since 1986. The monthly cash grant for a family of two is $437 per month – not enough to pay rent for legal housing in most towns (much less other needs). Because the current welfare grant levels, 70,000 MN children live in Extreme Poverty – over 60% below the poverty level. This extreme poverty has a devastating effect on children, who are the majority of MFIP recipients.

We applaud Reps. Fritz, Loeffler, Liebling and others for sponsoring these bills this year. After seeing the Governor’s budget proposal, we think it is critical that legislators of conscience stand firm and help the poorest of the poor this year.

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