Maine Democrats Show They’re Not Interested In Welfare Reform

Late night votes show Democrats’ true colors on welfare reform

Augusta – In a series of votes Monday night in the Maine House, Democrats proved beyond a shadow of a doubt they have no interest whatsoever in welfare reform. Their votes are not shocking but certainly fly in the face of Maine voters who spoke loud and clear in November.

In a matter of a few hours, Democrats said no to work and volunteer requirements for welfare recipients, no to photo IDs on Electronic Benefit Transfer cards (EBT), no to prohibiting the purchase of alcohol, tobacco tattoos, bail etc. with TANF benefits, no to ensuring that Maine’s precious resources are going to those who are truly in need and using these benefits appropriately.

Monday in the House, the following were among the bills were voted down by House Democrats:

LD 1375 “An Act To Increase Accountability in Maine’s Welfare Programs”
This bill would have, among other things, created a work search requirement for Temporary Assistance For Needy Families (TANF) recipients. The important thing to note here is that implementing work search and volunteer requirements on TANF recipients would simply put Maine in compliance with federal law. Currently Maine is facing $20-30 million in fines for non-compliance.

LD 1375 also:

• Would prohibit the use of Maine issued EBT cards out of state
• Prohibits the use of TANF benefits to purchase such things as alcohol, tobacco, tattoos, bail, lottery etc.

“Maine people have had enough of the welfare abuse and fraud they’ve been seeing for years. Every dollar that is misspent in the TANF and other welfare programs is a dollar taken away from a child that could go without,” said Rep. Deb Sanderson (R) of Chelsea. “Requiring that these benefits be spent in their home state is not a Draconian requirement. Requiring these benefits not be spent on liquor, tattoos, lottery or for bail is not Draconian. This is simply making sure these benefits are being spent appropriately.”
LD 607 “An Act to Stop the Abuse of Electronic Benefit Cards” a bill sponsored by Rep. Wayne Parry (R) of Arundel that would come down hard on people who were found to have used their welfare benefits for illegal activities like drug trafficking. Democrats led the charge to shoot this bill down in a 72-70 vote.

“After seeing stacks of EBT cards confiscated at drug busts I felt enough was enough. Every dollar of EBT funds that we see spent on drugs is a dollar being taken away from kids in need. That is unacceptable.”

Democrats tried to introduce their own veiled and toothless attempt at welfare reform. LD 1144 “An Act To Ensure the Integrity of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program” a bill that would establish a program to educate recipients on exactly what their benefits should be used for. The bill also implements toothless punishments for those caught abusing their benefits. A first offense would be punishable by a written warning, a 3 month loss of benefits for a second offense and a 6 month loss of benefits for a third offense. After losing the initial vote on LD 1144 Democrats tabled the measure.

These votes once again show the people of Maine that Democrats have no interest in reforming welfare in Maine and perfectly content with the status quo.

Other welfare reforms shot down by Democrats:

LD 1036 – “An Act To Prioritize Use of Available Resources in General Assistance Programs”

Voted down 73-72

LD 1037 – “An Act To Establish a 180-day Residency Requirement for Welfare Benefits”

Voted down 78-67

LD 368 – “An Act To Align Municipal General Assistance Programs with the Immigration Status Policies of the Department of Health and Human Services”

Voted down 80-65

“Democrats revealed their agenda tonight,” said House Republican Leader Ken Fredette. “By systematically killing welfare reform in the dark of night they’re failing the people of Maine who spoke loudly in favor of Republican’s message of welfare reform in November.”

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