Welfare Reform on Agenda at Legislators' Forum Here
Al Stamborski St. Charles Post Bureau Chief, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
Proposals to change the welfare system will be on the agenda Thursday night at a public meeting sponsored by state Rep. Ted House, D-St. Charles.
The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the lobby of St. Charles City Hall, 200 North Second Street.
Welfare reform issues pending in the Legislature will be discussed. In addition to a bill co-sponsored by House, other members of the St. Charles County legislative delegation have proposed changes.
House Bill 1547, co-sponsored by House, would:
Help welfare recipients get jobs and revoke benefits if they did not succeed within four years.
Offer self-sufficiency benefits to welfare parents. These would include schooling, day care, job placement and transportation.
Give employers financial incentives to hire welfare recipients and grant tax breaks to businesses that create jobs in high-poverty areas.
Require unmarried welfare mothers and fathers younger than 18 to live with a parent or guardian.
Serve paternity papers to fathers who show up at hospitals to see their babies.
Require children who benefit from welfare payments to attend school and get a high school diploma or its equivalent.
Make parents liable for child-support payments their own teen-agers might owe.
"If you have a 16-year old who has a child, and the 16-year-old isn't meeting support obligations, then the parents of that 16-year-old will be responsible for the payments," House explained. "Some people don't think parents should be responsible for their teen-agers."
Accompanying House at the meeting will be state Rep. Joe Maxwell, D-Mexico, and Carmen Schulze, director of the Missouri Division of Family Services.
Maxwell is the chief sponsor of House Bill 1547, that the House has passed and the Senate's Public Health and Welfare Committee is considering. That panel is headed by Sen. J.B. "Jet" Banks, D-St. Louis.
House said he expects Banks to pass the bill out of committee.
House, one of many co-sponsors of the bill, thinks the measure has a good chance of being passed before the Legislature adjourns May 13. "It has been one of the priority pieces of legislation of the governor and leadership of the General Assembly," he said. …