CCS/HCS/SS#2/SCS/SB 24 - This act, known as the "Strengthening Missouri Families Act," modifies provisions of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
SANCTIONS (Section 208.026)
This act requires the Department of Social Services to conduct an investigation and determine if a person is cooperating with a work activity requirement under the TANF program. If the person is non-compliant, a representative of the Department shall conduct a face-to-face meeting and explain the potential sanction of TANF benefits, as well as the requirements to cure such a sanction. The TANF recipient shall then have 6 weeks to comply with the work activity requirement, during which time no sanction of benefits shall occur. Failure to comply with the requirements within the 6 week period will result in a sanction consisting of a 50% reduction of benefits for a maximum of ten weeks. During that period of sanctions, the person shall remain on the caseload in sanction status and the Department will attempt to meet face-to-face to explain the sanction and the requirements to cure the sanction. To cure a sanction, the person shall perform work activities for a minimum average of 30 hours per week for one month. If the person does not cure the sanction, the case shall be closed. This act allows for the person to reapply for benefits by completing work activities for a minimum average of 30 hours per week within one month of the eligibility interview.
This provision is substantially similar to provisions in HB 654 (2015) and HCS/HB 654 (2015).
LIFE-TIME LIMITS, CASH DIVERSION, WORK REQUIREMENT, PROGRAM ORIENTATION, AND NEW SPOUSES (208.026 & 208.040)
The following changes shall be made to the TANF program:
(1) Beginning January 1, 2016, the life-time limit for TANF shall be 45 months. This limit shall not apply to minor children and those families who have been granted a hardship exemption;
(2) Beginning January 1, 2016, the Department shall implement a cash diversion program that grants eligible TANF recipients lump-sum cash grants for short-term needs, as well as job referrals or referrals to career centers, in lieu of signing up for the long-term monthly cash assistance program and upon a showing of good cause. This lump sum benefit shall not apply toward the life-time TANF benefits limit. Good cause may include loss of employment, excluding a voluntary quit or dismissal due to poor job performance; catastrophic illness; domestic violence; or other emergencies rendering a family member unable to care for the basic needs of the family. The lump-sum maximum limit shall be set at three times the family size allowance and for use once in a 12-month period and for only five instances in a lifetime;
(3) The Department shall develop a standardized program orientation for TANF applicants that informs applicants of the program's rules and work requirements, as well as the consequences if the work requirements are not met. The Department shall not issue a case without receiving confirmation that TANF applicants have undergone an orientation and have signed a participation agreement;
(4) A new spouse's income and assets shall be disregarded for six consecutive months. This disregard shall be applied once in a recipient's lifetime; and
(5) Beginning January 1, 2016, parents or caretakers seeking benefits will be required to engage in work activities before becoming eligible, unless otherwise exempt from the work requirement.
These provisions are identical to provisions in HB 654 (2015) and similar to provisions in HB 624 (2015) and HCS/HB 624 (2015).
MARRIAGE, FATHERHOOD, AND ALTERNATIVES TO ABORTION SERVICES (208.067)
Each fiscal year, the Department shall set aside a minimum of 2% of TANF funds, consistent with federal law and subject to appropriations, to fund alternative to abortion services and public awareness programs, as well as a minimum of 2% of TANF funds for healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood promotion activities. These funds shall be used to supplement and not supplant current and future funding for these programs.
This provision is substantially similar to a provision in HCS/HB 654 (2015).
SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (208.244.1)
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program allows states with a certain level of unemployment to seek a waiver of the work requirement for assistance. Missouri currently has such a waiver. Beginning January 1, 2016, this act removes the waiver and reinstates the work requirements.
This provision is substantially similar to HB 640 (2015) and provisions in SCS/HCS/HB 796 (2015) and similar to HB 547 (2015), HCS/HB 547 (2015), and HB 1283 (2015).
APPLICATION OF SAVINGS (208.244.2)
Any savings resulting from the changes to TANF and SNAP under this act shall be used to provide child care assistance for single parents, education assistance, transportation assistance, and job training for individuals receiving benefits under the programs as allowable under law.
This provision is substantially similar to HB 640 (2015) and SCS/HCS/HB 796 (2015) and similar to provisions in HCS/HB 796 (2015), HB 796 (2015), and HCS/HB 547 (2015).
ANNUAL REPORT (208.244.3)
The Department of Social Services shall make an annual report to the Joint Committee on Government Accountability on the progress of implementation and include specified data. The Joint Committee shall meet at least once a year to review the report and make recommendations to the President Pro-Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House.