A bill intended to cut down on the number of people abusing welfare is making its way through the West Virginia state house… but not everyone is happy about it.
Many Americans agree that there should be requirements in place to keep government handouts reserved only for people who are truly in need. House Bill 4001 does exactly that.
“A legislative committee in West Virginia has narrowly voted to advance legislation that would establish a 20-hour weekly work requirement for many food stamp recipients,” The Associated Press reported. “If passed the bill would go into effect on Oct. 1, 2018.”
In basic terms, the proposed law would mean that people of working age who are not legally disabled and do not have dependent children can’t receive food stamp benefits for sitting on the couch and doing nothing.
Instead, they would have to work at least part time, with fairly broad definitions of what type of work qualifies.
“The bill would require recipients to work, volunteer or be involved in a work force training program for 20-hours a week or 80-hours a month,” continued the AP. “The time can be accrued in any combination of those programs.”
In other words, somebody who genuinely cannot find a job could still qualify if they were performing volunteer work or were involved in workplace training via Job Corps or similar organizations.
Proponents of the bill, including its Republican sponsors, believe that it will cut down on welfare fraud while promoting a strong work ethic.
“Advocates say it will eliminate fraud and get people back to work, even if only volunteer work,” summarized the AP.
“Opponents say it will push struggling poor people out of the program, cut federal funding to West Virginia and increase demand on food pantries.”
According to data from the USDA, 128,000 households in West Virginia received food stamps in 2016. With around 590,000 households in the state, this means that about 21 percent of the state is on food assistance via the government.
In other states where similar work requirements were implemented, the results were impossible to ignore.
“According to Alabama Media Group, 13 counties in the southern state recently reinstated work requirements for their government food programs, and the results were staggering. Food stamp usage dropped by 85 percent,” Conservative Tribune reported last June.
“Based on the trend, the number of (able-bodied adults without dependents) recipients for SNAP benefits is expected to continue to decline statewide and in the formerly 13 exempted counties,” said John Hardy, who works with the Alabama Department of Human Resources.
If the bill in West Virginia passes, that state could see cost savings similar to Alabama. That would mean less dependence on the government and more people involved in the workforce.
It’s human nature to want to help people in need… but it’s also human nature to become lazy and passive when something is handed out for free. The key is to find a balance between assisting those who truly need it, while making sure that able-bodied workers are not milking the system.
There’s nothing wrong with having a safety net. It’s a safety hammock that needs to be eliminated.
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