The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

Good news on MA Family Cap, Bad News on SNAP Gap - fight goes on!

We have some important news for you from the MA State House and beyond. 

TAFDC Family Cap rule overridden in Senate 37-3! 

First the good news:  At 11:45 AM today, the Massachusetts State Senate voted 37 to 3 to override the Massachusetts family cap rule.  This follows the 4/10/19 House vote, 155-1 to override. For 30 years, this very punitive family cap rule has barred children from TAFDC cash benefits and effectively punished both them and their siblings.  See MassLive article here and State House News below.  Huge Congrats to MLRI’s Deborah Harris, GBLS’ Naomi Meyer and the amazing Lift the Cap Coalition campaign! (More background here, but not updated).  

Next Steps:  If you work with families who are getting TAFDC but less than the full amount for their children, please let them know about the change in the family cap rules and right to request their children be added to the grant.  If you work with families who do not get any TAFDC now (for ex, their original TAFDC child of record is no longer in the home but there are younger children there), they too can apply for TAFDC.  There are child support requirements and possibly work rules that may apply, but it is important to know that these families now have the right to request assistance for their children.  DTA will be contacting current TAFDC cases that have children impacted by the family cap rule.  

SNAP Gap/Common App and HIP amendments get limited traction in FY20 House Budget Deliberations

We are disappointed to report that the SNAP Gap language included in Rep Livingstone’s Amendment #691 was not included in final “Consolidated Amendment D” offered on the House Floor on Tuesday. Indeed the Health and Human Services/Elder Affairs consolidated amendment (consolidation of  58 HHS amendments and 45 Elder Affairs amendments), contained minimal language changes or increase in funding (other than earmarking particular line items and some improvements to nursing home rates and a few other items that other orgs may wish to highlight). By most reports, a very slim package indeed, 

And the HIP amendment, taken up earlier Tuesday with 140+ co-sponsors, achieved only a $.5 boost in the HIP line item - from $4M to $4.5 M, same as what the Governor proposed in House 1. Ugh!

Next Steps:  This is of course very disappointing, but it is not over. We have achieved huge interest in the issue and important bipartisan support for the SNAP Gap. The FY 20 budget campaign now moves to the Senate with the goal of securing SNAP gap language in the Senate Ways and Means budget, and of course getting the Health Care Finance Committee to schedule a hearing on the bills.  

The SNAP Gap Coalition is hosting an update/next steps conf call - tomorrow at 11 AM.  If you are not on the SNAP Gap Coalition eblast list (different from this list) and want to join the call, let me know. 

MLRI’s 2019 SNAP Advocacy Guide is now an e-book!

We are delighted to report that the SNAP Advocacy Guide is now an e-book in addition to a PDF you can download, or paper back you can order.  The e-book also links to all of DTA’s policies and state regulations.   

Check it out HERE: https://www.masslegalservices.org/content/2019-food-stamp-snap-advocacy-guide

 

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LAWMAKERS LIFT CAP ON FAMILY WELFARE BENEFITS   By Colin A. Young  STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE   

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, APRIL 25, 2019.....A Senate vote Thursday passed into law over Gov. Charlie Baker's veto legislation lifting a 1990s-era state policy barring families receiving public assistance benefits from getting additional benefits when another child is born.

Sen. Sal DiDomenico, who has long been pushing to eliminate the so-called cap on kids, said it was the sixth time the Senate voted to do away with the policy.

"We will once and for all put this policy out of business," the Everett Democrat said before the Senate voted 37-3 to override Baker's veto. Three of the Senate's six Republicans -- Sens. Vinny deMacedo, Ryan Fattman and Donald Humason -- voted to sustain the governor's veto.

The bill (H 3594) previously passed the House 155-1 and the Senate 37-1, so overriding the governor with the necessary two-thirds support was not in doubt. The House voted in favor of an override two weeks ago.

Baker had said that he did not oppose lifting the cap, but wanted additional welfare system reforms to be included in the bill. The Legislature showed little interest in Baker's proposals.

"Lifting the Cap on Kids will make a critical difference in the lives of 8,700 of the lowest income children in Massachusetts," Deborah Harris of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute said. "With today's vote, Massachusetts has affirmed the dignity and humanity of every child." 

The bill includes a preamble that makes the change effective immediately and the Legislature made its cap lift retroactive to January. The Baker administration now has until September to calculate benefits so families receive the proper amount retroactive back to Jan. 1, according to advocates.

 


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