In the past two days, four measures restricting welfare use have passed the Republican-controlled Alabama legislature and now await the signature of Gov. Robert J. Bentley (R). The bills would impose new eligibility restrictions on Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, or TANF, a federal welfare program for low-income families, including mandatory drug tests for applicants with drug convictions.
Here are the four bills passed by the Alabama legislature on Wednesday and Thursday:
1. Senate Bill 63
Passed Senate 63-33 on Feb 26
Passed House 73-27 on Apr 3
Senate Bill 63 would require TANF applicants with a drug conviction in the last five years to be drug-tested before receiving their first benefits. Those who test positive for the first time would receive a warning. A second positive test would result in a one-year suspension of TANF benefits. A third positive test would result in a lifetime ban of TANF aid.
2. Senate Bill 114
Passed Senate 29-2 on Feb 26
Passed House 80-17 on Apr 2
Senate Bill 114 would make it a Class A misdemeanor to falsify information in order to qualify for any state or federally funded public assistance program.
3. Senate Bill 115
Passed Senate 28-1 on Feb 26
Passed House 70-33 on Apr 2
Senate Bill 115 would mandate that TANF applicants apply for at least three positions of unsubsidized employment before qualifying for aid.
4. Senate Bill 116
Passed Senate 25-0 on Feb 26
Passed House 64-34 on Apr 2
Senate Bill 116 would expand the list of places where electronic welfare cards cannot be used at ATM machines. The bill, which expands the federal government's TANF usage bans in bars, casinos and liquor stores, would also prohibit TANF recipients from using TANF benefits for lottery tickets, strip clubs, tattoos, piercings or psychic services.