Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tougher Welfare Law Enacted by Governor

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tougher Welfare Law Enacted by Governor

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- The four-years-and-you're-off clock is ticking for

113,600 families on welfare in Georgia, under tough standards

signed into law yesterday.

A smiling Gov. Zell Miller, flanked by the Republican lawmakers

he credited with passing the law, said he doesn't envision much

hardship for needy adults under the gun to get jobs.

"I think anyone that wants work, there's jobs out there for

them," Miller said, reminiscing about his college days as a

$7-a-day hamburger flipper in Athens. "Everybody in Georgia that

wants work can find work."

The new law takes effect in July, but its most noted provision,

the four-year lifetime limit for receiving welfare checks,

affects any adult who was getting Aid to Families With Dependent

Children as of Jan. 1.

That four-year standard is one year less than allowed under a

federal welfare overhaul enacted last year.

Otherwise, the bill largely carries out the federal law. Under

that law, states must either pass their own welfare reforms or

have the national standards imposed by default.

Georgia's law also is more restrictive on legal immigrants, a

plan civil-rights lawyers and others have threatened to

challenge in court. In fact, Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles plans a

news conference for today to announce he will sue the federal

government to preserve welfare benefits for more than 100,000

legal immigrants in Florida.

Immigrants arriving after Aug. 22 of this year can qualify for

benefits for only one year.

The changes build on efforts by the Miller administration to

make welfare a less comfortable resting place. Two years ago,

the governor pushed through a requirement that all able-bodied

recipients must get a job or job training.

The state will spend $203 million on Aid to Families With

Dependent Children this year, with the federal government

contributing $316 million.

Still, the rolls have been winnowed down from a high of 139,355

families in 1993 to 113,632 as of February.

The new law was sponsored by Rep. Thurbert Baker, D-Decatur, at

the governor's request. …

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