REPORT TITLE:
Welfare Reform


DESCRIPTION:
Requires DHS to keep rollover funds from general assistance;
requires DHS to place disabled children under TAONF program into
SSI program; makes appropriation for GA program; makes three
appropriations for DHS to purchase services from nonprofit
entities to aid welfare recipients; bases TANF benefits on
current federal poverty level; requires the Senate Committee on
Health and Human Services with assistance from LRB to study the
general assistance program.  (SD1)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
                                                        171
THE SENATE                              S.B. NO.           S.D. 1
TWENTIETH LEGISLATURE, 1999                                
STATE OF HAWAII                                            
                                                             
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                   A  BILL  FOR  AN  ACT

RELATING TO WELFARE REFORM. 


BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

 1                              PART I
 
 2      SECTION 1.  Chapter 37, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended
 
 3 by adding a new section to part III to be appropriately
 
 4 designated and to read as follows:
 
 5      "37-     Department of human services; carryover of funds.
 
 6 (a)  The department of human services may retain any
 
 7 appropriation for general assistance to households without minor
 
 8 dependents at the close of a fiscal year and the funds retained
 
 9 shall not lapse until June 30 of the first fiscal year of the
 
10 next fiscal biennium; provided that the funds shall first be
 
11 expended on each eligible recipient to the maximum provided by
 
12 law.  The department of human services shall submit a report to
 
13 the director of finance, by the close of the first fiscal year,
 
14 identifying the total amount of funds that will carry over to the
 
15 second fiscal year with a copy of this report to the legislature
 
16 at least twenty days prior to the convening of the next regular
 
17 session of the legislature.
 
18      (b)  Any appropriation retained in accordance with this
 
19 subsection (a) shall be used exclusively for case management
 

 
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 1 general assistance to households without minor dependents;
 
 2 provided that the retention of an appropriation shall not be used
 
 3 as a basis for reducing future budget requirements."
 
 4      SECTION 2. Chapter 346, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended
 
 5 by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to
 
 6 read as follows:
 
 7      "346-     Disabled children to be placed in federal
 
 8 program.  The department shall endeavor to place qualifying
 
 9 children under the age of eighteen years who receive benefits
 
10 under the State's temporary assistance to other needy families
 
11 program into the Federal Supplemental Security Income Program in
 
12 order to receive federal public assistance."
 
13                              PART II
 
14      SECTION 3.  The legislature finds that the allocated funding
 
15 for the general assistance to households without minor dependents
 
16 program (GA) was cut in the fiscal biennium 1997-1999, resulting
 
17 in diminished benefits for needy recipients.
 
18      The purpose of this Part is to make an appropriation to
 
19 restore funding for the GA program to bring recipients back up to
 
20 the level of monthly benefits they received before the cuts.
 
21      SECTION 4.  There is appropriated out of the general
 
22 revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $2,800,000, or so much
 
23 thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 1999-2000, and the
 

 
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 1 same sum, or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year
 
 2 2000-2001, to supplement the budget appropriation for the fiscal
 
 3 biennium 1999-2001, for funding for the general assistance
 
 4 program; provided that the amount of monthly benefit per
 
 5 recipient shall increase from $388 per month to not less than
 
 6 $418 per month for the fiscal biennium 1999-2001.
 
 7      SECTION 5.  The sums appropriated under this Part shall be
 
 8 expended by the department of human services.
 
 9                             PART III
 
10      SECTION 6.  Medicare is the federal health insurance program
 
11 for Americans age sixty-five and older and certain disabled
 
12 people.  All recipients of Social Security retirement benefits
 
13 are automatically entitled to Medicare, which is funded totally
 
14 by the federal government.
 
15      The legislature finds that the State should make all efforts
 
16 to maximize federal Medicare coverage for eligible citizens of
 
17 Hawaii, in order to save the State from the alternative of
 
18 providing Medicaid coverage or other medical benefits for
 
19 eligible elders, which involves state matching funds.
 
20      The legislature further finds that one or more private
 
21 nonprofit entities have Medicare advocacy programs to help
 
22 Medicare applicants to respond to the high percentage of wrongful
 
23 denials of Medicare coverage.  The programs educate seniors about
 

 
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 1 their entitlements and rights under Medicare and represent them
 
 2 on appeal of their denial of Medicare benefits.  The legislature
 
 3 further finds that these programs have the potential to save the
 
 4 State substantial money.
 
 5      The purpose of this Part is to appropriate funds for the
 
 6 purchase of health and human services for Medicare advocacy
 
 7 programs.
 
 8      SECTION 7.  There is appropriated out of the general
 
 9 revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $180,000, or so much
 
10 thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 1999-2000, for the
 
11 purchase of health and human services for Medicare advocacy
 
12 programs.  
 
13      SECTION 8.  The sum appropriated under this Part shall be
 
14 expended by the department of human services for the purposes of
 
15 this Part.
 
16                              PART IV
 
17      SECTION 9.  The legislature finds that the neighbor islands
 
18 have an backlog of foster children awaiting adoptions.  Foster
 
19 care for these children is subsidized by the State.  The
 
20 legislature further finds that one or more nonprofit entities
 
21 have programs for adoptive families to facilitate the adoption of
 
22 foster children.  The programs provide free, comprehensive legal
 
23 services to families who wish to adopt.  These services include
 

 
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 1 legalizing adoptions, obtaining Social Security benefits for
 
 2 qualified adopted children, applying for adoption assistance
 
 3 under the federal Title IV-E program, helping families place
 
 4 children in special education programs if needed, obtaining
 
 5 Medicaid and other medical and public benefits for eligible
 
 6 children, and helping adoptive parents to apply for federal tax
 
 7 credits for adoptions.
 
 8      The purpose of this Part is to appropriate funds for the
 
 9 purchase of health and human services for programs for adoptive
 
10 families.
 
11      SECTION 10.  There is appropriated out of the general
 
12 revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $120,000, or so much
 
13 thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 1999-2000, for the
 
14 purchase of health and human services for programs for adoptive
 
15 parents.
 
16      SECTION 11.  The sum appropriated under this Part shall be
 
17 expended by the department of human services for the purposes of
 
18 this Part.
 
19                              PART V
 
20      SECTION 12.  The legislature finds that the federal earned
 
21 income tax credit is an important income supplement for the
 
22 working poor.  The credit operates as a refund that can be as
 
23 much as $3,756, effectively bringing money into Hawaii from the
 

 
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 1 federal government.  The legislature further finds that an
 
 2 estimated twenty-five per cent of those eligible for the credit
 
 3 are unaware of their eligibility.  The Internal Revenue Service
 
 4 tax figures for 1996, seem to indicate that there may have been
 
 5 as much as $12,000,000 or more that was not claimed in Hawaii.
 
 6 In addition to the credit, new federal tax credits of up to $400
 
 7 may be claimed per child in 1998 tax returns.
 
 8      The legislature further finds that there are one or more
 
 9 nonprofit entities that have earned income tax credit programs to
 
10 assist eligible families and individuals to claim the eligible
 
11 credits.
 
12      The purpose of this Part is to appropriate funds for the
 
13 purchase of health and human services for earned income tax
 
14 credit programs.
 
15      SECTION 13.  There is appropriated out of the general
 
16 revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $70,000, or so much
 
17 thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 1999-2000, for the
 
18 purchase of health and human services for earned income tax
 
19 credit programs.
 
20      SECTION 14.  The sum appropriated under this Part shall be
 
21 expended by the department of taxation for the purposes of this
 
22 Part.
 
23                              PART VI
 

 
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 1      SECTION 15.  The legislature finds that the general
 
 2 assistance to households without minor dependents program, better
 
 3 known as general assistance, continues to be the subject of
 
 4 controversy about issues ranging from justification for the
 
 5 program, eligibility criteria, and levels of funding.  The
 
 6 legislature further finds that an independent study is needed to
 
 7 objectively evaluate the program in order for the legislature to
 
 8 make informed and prudent decisions about appropriations and
 
 9 statutory changes regarding the program.
 
10      The purpose of this Part is to direct the legislative
 
11 reference bureau to conduct a study on the general assistance
 
12 program.
 
13      SECTION 16.  The Senate committee on human resources, with
 
14 the assistance of the legislative reference bureau, shall conduct
 
15 a study with input from appropriate government agencies and
 
16 community representatives, of the general assistance to
 
17 households without minor dependents program, formerly known as
 
18 general assistance, as established under part III of chapter 346,
 
19 Hawaii Revised Statutes.  The study shall make determinations
 
20 regarding:
 
21      (1)  Revision of eligibility criteria, with a view towards
 
22           balancing competing needs of the recipients and the
 
23           ability of the State to pay benefits;
 

 
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 1      (2)  Limitations on state expenditures on the program,
 
 2           including but not limited to time limits on receiving
 
 3           benefits and transferring recipients to other public
 
 4           assistance programs;
 
 5      (3)  Setting a statutory ceiling on the amount of benefits
 
 6           received per recipient;
 
 7      (4)  Alternatives for funding the program, including but not
 
 8           limited to, appropriations by the legislature,
 
 9           executive budget allocations, or creating a special
 
10           fund; and
 
11      (5)  Whether or not the program should be terminated.
 
12      The Senate committee on health and human services, with the
 
13 assistance of the legislative reference bureau, shall report its
 
14 findings and recommendations to the legislature not later than
 
15 twenty days prior to the convening of the regular session of
 
16 2000.
 
17      SECTION 17.  Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed.
 
18 New statutory material is underscored.
 
19      SECTION 18.  This Act shall take effect upon its approval;
 
20 provided that sections 4, 7, 10, and 13 shall take effect on 
 
21 July 1, 1999.