EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


November 7, 2013

Mass. House passes welfare reform


She said, among the legislation’s provisions are crackdowns on out-of-state residents collecting welfare payments and food stamp traffickers. Benefits will be suspended for recipients who fail to notify the Commonwealth of an address change.

The bill also includes a provision that mandates adult recipients who are not enrolled full-time in a secondary school or educational program to seek employment through a new Pathways to Self-Sufficiency program, designed to place welfare recipients in jobs with regional employers. Under the legislation, adult applicants must conduct an initial job search prior to receiving cash assistance and evidence of this must be provided to the Commonwealth.

Republican amendments that were brought up for debate were roundly criticized.

“Every time we ask for reports these days, we’re mean. We’re punitive,” said Rep. James Lyons, an Andover Republican.

Republicans secured some quiet victories, as the House adopted without debate Minority Leader Brad Jones’ amendments to cut off benefits to people who spend 90 days a year out of state, and another that required establishment of an all-electronic benefits system by 2019.

“I am pleased that the House of Representatives has taken yet another step toward achieving a taxpayer-funded Electronic Benefits Transfer program which serves those citizens who are in need of assistance, and who have taken the necessary and lawful steps to secure those benefits,” Jones, of North Reading, said in a statement.

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