BREAKING NEWS Eyota teen accused of murdering his little brother Full Story

States aren't waiting for Washington to require poor residents to work

President Trump and Republicans in Congress are setting the stage to make more low-income Americans work for benefits...

Posted: Apr 18, 2018 12:23 PM
Updated: Apr 18, 2018 12:23 PM

President Trump and Republicans in Congress are setting the stage to make more low-income Americans work for benefits. But a growing number of states are already doing just that.

Many of the states' efforts focus on the food stamp program, which already requires some recipients to work.

Currently, able-bodied adults ages 18 to 49 who don't have minor children must work or enroll in a training program for 20 hours a week. Otherwise, they can only receive benefits for up to three months every three years.

But states can request waivers of the work requirement for areas where unemployment is at least 10% or there is an insufficient number of jobs, as defined by the Department of Labor.

Typically, about one-third of the nation lives in a place where the work requirement is suspended, though that share skyrocketed during and just after the Great Recession.

Some governors and lawmakers say that their states are now in better financial shape so they don't need to apply for waivers. Instead, they say these food stamp recipients should start moving toward independence by getting jobs or enrolling in training programs. Plus, they argue, with near record-low unemployment, their states have a labor shortage that low-income residents can help fill.

Kentucky, which had a statewide waiver until 2016, is rapidly moving to reimpose work requirements in all but eight of its counties. By the end of May, recipients in 112 counties will be subject to the three-month time limit on benefits if they don't work, up from 20 counties at the end of last year.

Lifting these waivers will impact most of the 87,000 Kentucky adults in the program who don't have dependents, according to the left-leaning Kentucky Center for Economic Policy.

"Since jobs are still hard to find in significant parts of the state, this change will result in loss of food assistance and harm to economic activity in already-struggling local communities," Dustin Pugel, a policy analyst at the center, wrote in a blog post.

Related: House GOP bill would lock the poor out of food stamps if they don't work

Nearly four dozen counties and three cities meet the criteria to easily gain federal waiver approval, he noted.

Kentucky's Cabinet for Health and Family Services did not return calls seeking comment.

In West Virginia, state officials will start phasing out the number of counties with work requirement waivers later this year. Currently, food stamp enrollees in only nine out of the state's 55 counties are subject to the time limit. Going forward, only counties designated as having a "labor surplus" -- more workers than available jobs -- will be able to apply to suspend the work requirement.

But in October 2022, West Virginia will no longer be able to apply for a waiver for any county, no matter the economic circumstances, according to a bill passed by the state legislature and signed by Governor Jim Justice last month.

This will not only hurt many low-income residents, but it could harm businesses in many areas, said Seth DiStefano, policy and outreach director at the West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy.

"In some communities, SNAP is literally keeping grocery stores open," he said.

West Virginia's Department of Health and Human Resources did not return calls seeking comment.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker last week signed a series of bills that are part of his Wisconsin Works for Everyone welfare reform plan. The bills aim to apply the work requirement to parents of school-age children, to increase the number of hours food stamp recipients must work and to explore developing employment plans for those living in public housing. Many of the proposals will require either federal approval or a change in federal law.

Related: Trump signs executive order pushing work requirements for the poor

"We want to help those in need move from government dependence to true independence through the dignity of work," said Walker, who ended waivers for able-bodied adults without dependents statewide in 2015.

At least a dozen states are also interested in the Trump administration's willingness to require Medicaid recipients to work, a historic change in the program. Three states -- Kentucky, Indiana and Arkansas -- have already received federal approval to do so.

The states' actions come as President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress look to overhaul the nation's safety net system. Last week, Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies to promote employment for those on public assistance.

Also, on Thursday, Republicans introduced the House farm bill, which calls for expanding the number of food stamp recipients who are subject to work requirements. The legislation would require those in their 50s to have jobs or enter training programs and also would extend the mandate to parents with school-age children, starting in fiscal 2021.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 25208

Reported Deaths: 1060
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin8514616
Ramsey3075128
Stearns203013
Nobles15445
Anoka142970
Dakota134957
Washington64532
Olmsted63410
Kandiyohi4971
Rice4622
Scott4362
Clay42728
Mower3452
Wright3202
Todd3190
Sherburne2462
Carver2182
Benton1783
Steele1600
Blue Earth1420
Martin1325
Freeborn1250
St. Louis11814
Pine890
Unassigned8810
Nicollet8810
Winona8015
Cottonwood760
Watonwan750
Carlton750
Crow Wing712
Otter Tail700
Goodhue683
Chisago621
Polk612
Lyon570
Itasca5510
Dodge530
Chippewa511
Morrison470
Meeker450
Douglas440
Le Sueur441
Becker400
Murray390
Jackson390
McLeod370
Isanti350
Waseca260
Rock220
Swift190
Mille Lacs191
Pennington190
Faribault190
Wabasha180
Fillmore171
Sibley160
Brown162
Beltrami150
Cass142
Norman130
Marshall120
Pipestone120
Kanabec111
Wilkin113
Wadena100
Koochiching90
Pope90
Aitkin80
Mahnomen61
Yellow Medicine60
Big Stone60
Lincoln50
Redwood50
Renville50
Red Lake40
Grant40
Lac qui Parle30
Clearwater30
Traverse30
Houston20
Hubbard20
Roseau20
Lake10
Kittson10
Stevens10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 19669

Reported Deaths: 555
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk4236133
Woodbury276136
Black Hawk174745
Linn95379
Dallas91623
Marshall89616
Buena Vista8100
Johnson6149
Wapello59712
Muscatine55741
Crawford5282
Tama40327
Scott36110
Dubuque34619
Louisa34511
Sioux2830
Pottawattamie2698
Jasper26017
Washington1898
Wright1780
Warren1350
Plymouth1332
Allamakee1204
Story1161
Mahaska9510
Poweshiek908
Henry711
Bremer696
Des Moines651
Boone650
Clinton641
Taylor560
Clarke560
Guthrie513
Cedar481
Benton431
Hamilton430
Webster421
Monroe385
Shelby370
Jones360
Clayton343
Osceola340
Buchanan330
Iowa330
Marion320
Cherokee310
Jefferson300
Cerro Gordo291
Madison292
Lee270
Fayette270
Monona250
Winneshiek240
Lyon240
Davis230
Harrison230
Dickinson210
Sac200
Grundy200
Mills190
Floyd191
Humboldt181
Clay170
Delaware171
Hardin170
Butler171
Lucas170
Emmet160
Hancock160
Appanoose143
Ida140
Page140
Franklin140
Keokuk140
Pocahontas130
Greene130
Howard120
Cass120
Audubon121
Jackson120
Carroll110
Winnebago110
Chickasaw100
Kossuth100
Adair90
Van Buren90
Union90
Montgomery80
Adams70
Palo Alto70
Fremont40
Ringgold40
Mitchell40
Worth30
Calhoun20
Wayne10
Decatur10
Unassigned10
Rochester
Clear
91° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 95°
Mason City
Clear
94° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 96°
Albert Lea
Clear
93° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 95°
Austin
Clear
95° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 100°
Charles City
Clear
91° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 94°
Powerful storms and summer-like conditions are coming our way
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Sara's Midday Forecast - Tuesday

Image

Pool sales on the rise while pools remain closed

Image

Sara's Daybreak Forecast - Tuesday

Image

Rochester man bringing donations to the Twin Cities.

${item.thumbnail.title}

StormTeam 3: Today's Severe Weather Update

Image

Yoga studio closes space, tries new idea

Image

Forager Brewery welcomes new business

Image

Salons reopen at 25% capacity

Image

DMC's impact on Rochester's economic recovery

Image

Forager Brewery - best patio in Rochester

Community Events