welfare

Opinion
10:46 am
Tue March 25, 2014

Michigan lawmakers' latest efforts are a politically motivated attack on the poor

Well, here’s some news you’ve been waiting for.

Two bills may soon be on the governor’s desk requiring suspicion-based drug testing for welfare recipients.

The Michigan Senate has approved both, the House has passed one, and the odds are that they will smooth out any differences and send them on to the governor.

Signing them would be the sort of thing politicians do in an election year.

Indeed, it would make lots of people happy. Just think of all those lazy welfare chiselers, using our hard-earned taxpayer dollars to get high.

Read more
Politics & Government
9:00 am
Sat October 19, 2013

Lessenberry talks bills to penalize drug users, gay marriage and Bernard Kilpatrick

The state capitol
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

In This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rina Miller and political analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss bills in Lansing to penalize poor people who use drugs, a delay in the decision over gay marriage, and the sentencing of Bernard Kilpatrick.

Read more
Opinion
9:01 am
Tue September 3, 2013

More of us are on welfare than we think

During the debate on Medicaid expansion, one of the program’s biggest foes said something worth consideration.

State Senator Patrick Colbeck of Canton is a Tea Party favorite who is about as firmly anti-government as anybody. Especially, that is, when it comes to the federal government.

Colbeck firmly opposes any tax increases for any reason, including fixing our roads. He not only wanted to stop extending Medicaid, he wanted to get the state out of that federal program altogether.

He proposed a state-financed version that would cost the state more and insure fewer people. Even most of his fellow Republicans voted against that.

But one of Colbeck’s objections is worth thinking about. Of Medicaid expansion, he said, “If this goes into effect, 30 percent of our population is going to be on Medicaid, and then 70 percent is going to be paying for 30 percent.“ 

Indeed, that is a version of the nightmare that has haunted conservatives for decades: That our nation is becoming a place where a shrinking group of hard-working, self-sufficient Americans are cruelly taxed to support a huge parasite class. 

Read more
Economy
11:00 am
Mon July 22, 2013

Welfare caseworkers head to the factory

Amy Valderas came to Cascade Engineering in Grand Rapids, MI as part of the company's welfare to work program. She's kept her job for 14 years, and she no longer relies on state assistance.
Dustin Dwyer

 

In 1998, Amy Valderas was a single mom with three kids, all under the age of seven. She had no work experience, and lived with her sister. So she went to sign up for government assistance. But instead of welfare benefits, she got a job offer.

“I was very hesitant at first,” she says. “Because I was always with my kids, and I was worried about transportation, daycare, all kinds of stuff, you know.”

But she took the job anyway. Soon she was working 12-hour days on the factory floor, and coming in on weekends. She thought about quitting.

Read more
Politics & Government
12:49 pm
Thu June 6, 2013

No more welfare for dead people: Snyder cracks down on fraud

Michigan's Bridge Card, which provides food and cash assistance benefits.

Governor Rick Snyder has signed a new law (House Bill 4042) to ensure that dead people and incarcerated citizens are not eligible for Michigan’s Bridge Card food assistance program.

The Department of Human Services already has policies to ensure that those who are not eligible (example: dead people and those incarcerated) do not receive aid. But House Bill 4042 makes the policy a law.

Read more
Stateside
5:43 pm
Tue June 4, 2013

New bill could be bad news for medical marijuana patients

Voters approved the use of medical marijuana in 2008.
USFWS

State lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow suspicion-based drug testing as a condition of welfare in Michigan. People on cash assistance could lose their benefits if they test positive for an illegal substance.

As Michigan Public Radio’s Jake Neher reported, it’s not clear how the bill would affect medical marijuana patients. 

To listen to the full story, click the audio above.

Politics & Culture
5:05 pm
Wed May 8, 2013

Stateside for Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

On today's show: The U.S. Senate seat is open in Michigan come 2014. It's just sitting there for the taking. So, just who will take over the job opening after Carl Levin's retirement?

We'll speak with Congressman Gary Peters - Democrat - who has announced that he wants the job - and, we'll speak with a Republican strategist about why Republicans have yet to jump in the race. Just what does it mean for the GOP's chances if a candidate takes too long to announce?

And, then, later in the hour: a conversation with the music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra: Maestro Leonard Slatkin. He's in New York as the DSO plays Carnegie Hall.

But first we go to Lansing where we've been following a bill that's working its way through the State Legislature.

The legislation would require people getting welfare benefits to pass a drug test in order to receive those benefits. The substance abuse screening would be required if there's "reasonable suspicion" that the person is using illegal drugs.

State Representative Jeff Farrington (R-Utica) sponsored the bill in the House. He says the government should not pay for people's drug habits.

Economy
10:36 am
Wed May 8, 2013

A promising model to help people keep their jobs, and break the cycle of poverty

Amy Valderas came to Cascade Engineering as part of the company's welfare to work program. She's kept her job for 14 years, and she no longer relies on state assistance.
Credit Dustin Dwyer

 Today, on State of Opportunity, I report on a unique program that started more than a decade ago at Cascade Engineering in Grand Rapids. The initial idea was to help lift people out of poverty with the promise of a stable job.

Executives noticed the company had high turnover rates for entry-level job positions, and many of the people in these entry-level jobs were cycling on and off of state assistance. The goal was to fix the turnover problem and end the cycle of dependence at the same time. 

Read more
Stateside
5:14 pm
Tue May 7, 2013

Michigan moving closer to drug testing welfare recipients

Drug test.
user publik15 Flickr

We've been following a bill that's now working its way through the State Legislature.

The House has already said "yes" and passed it. Now it's on to the Senate.

In short: the legislation would require people getting welfare to pass a drug test in order to receive benefits.

The substance abuse screening would be required if there's "reasonable suspicion" that the person is using illegal drugs.

Representative Jeff Farrington (R-Utica) sponsored the bill in the House saying the government should not pay for people's drug habits.

"People are tired of applicants getting welfare payments when they're using them for illegal drug use," said Farrington. "We want to make sure that they get on the right track, they receive their treatment going forward and they get on the right path to success."

Supporters of the bill say only people who test positive would have to pay for the cost of the drug test.

Critics say suspicion-based drug testing demonizes the poor and unfairly hurts children of addicts.

Melissa Smith is a senior policy analyst with the Michigan League for Human Services. She researched the effectiveness of these welfare drug testing programs and she joins us now from Lansing.

She analyzed how "suspicion-based drug testing" is working in other states and shares what she found with us.

What she found?

A lot of money is wasted on these programs and not a lot is accomplished.

Listen to the full-interview above.

Politics & Government
5:46 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Bills to revoke welfare based on drug testing and school absences clear state House

Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

A pair of bills that would revoke welfare benefits from some Michigan families has cleared the state House. The legislation has support on both sides of the aisle.

One bill would let the state cut cash assistance payments to families with kids who persistently miss school.

The state Department of Human Services is already doing this – the bill would make the policy state law.

Many Republicans and Democrats say it’s a good way to promote school attendance in poor areas.

But Democratic Representative Jeff Irwin is worried some abusive parents might be keeping their kids out of school to avoid getting turned in to the authorities.

Read more
Politics & Government
9:00 am
Mon April 22, 2013

In this morning's headlines: Flooding, welfare targeted bills, Lansing marathon

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Grand River crests in Grand Rapids, thousands evacuated from flooding

The Grand River has crested in Grand Rapids. As Lindsey Smith reports,

"Grand Rapids remains under a state of emergency because of significant damage to a number of buildings in the downtown area [from the flooding]. It’s estimated around 1,000 residents in mid and west Michigan have been evacuated from their homes."

Bills that target welfare recipients being considered in the state House

"Low-income Michigan families would have to take drug tests and make sure their children don't miss too much school to qualify for some welfare benefits, under legislation in the state House," the Associated Press reports.

Flooding, Boston bombings and freezing temperatures didn't stop Lansing marathon

"Sub-freezing temperatures, tight security and a course rerouted to avoid a flooded section of the Lansing River Trail all failed to stop the Lansing Marathon. Lansing's temperature stood at 28 degrees at the race's 8 a.m. start yesterday as participants honored the victims of last Monday's Boston Marathon bombing," the Associated Press reports.

Politics & Government
9:00 am
Sat April 20, 2013

The week in review: lowering auto insurance, drug testing the poor, immigration protests

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

This week in review, Rina Miller and Jack Lessenberry discuss the possible plan to lower auto insurance rates in the state, a bill to require drug tests for welfare recipients, and the arrests made at the University of Michigan over immigration protests.

Read more
Stateside
6:32 pm
Thu April 18, 2013

Welfare drug testing bill moves forward in the State House

The Lansing Capitol
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

Some controversial legislation is moving forward in the State House.

Under a bill approved yesterday by a State House panel - the Families, Children and Seniors Committee - Michigan would begin suspicion-based drug-testing of people who receive welfare benefits.

The legislation would allow the state to take away the benefits from people who test positive for drugs.

Under the measure, the drug testing program would go through a one-year trial period before being made permanent.

Republican Representative Jeff Farrington introduced the legislation. He says the government should not pay for people’s drug habits.

“People are tired of applicants getting welfare payments when they’re used for illegal drug use," said Farrington. "We want to make sure that they get on the right track, they receive their treatment going forward, and they get on the right path to success.”

Supporters also say people would have to pay for the drug test only if they test positive.

Critics of the plan say it demonizes the poor and unfairly hurts children of addicts.

Former social worker and Democratic Representative Marcia Hover-Wright says the bill is flawed.

“I don’t think there’s enough understanding on the other side of people with addictions and what’s their course... I’ve worked a lot with people with substance abuse problems, and to have the whole family suffer because the adult has a substance abuse problem, I find really problematic," said Hover-Wright.

Under the most recent version of the bill, people who test positive for the first time could enroll in an addiction treatment program and still receive their benefits during that time.

Only people who test positive would have to pay for the cost of the tests. That means the program could cost the state more money for testing and screening than originally anticipated.

On the other hand, it potentially could save the state some money on welfare benefits.

Democrats unsuccessfully tried to add several amendments to the bill. Among other things, they would have exempted medical marijuana patients and seniors from the penalties.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) last year proposed state lawmakers should have to undergo testing and screening for substance abuse if welfare recipients are required to do so.

Her idea did not advance in the Legislature.

Jake Neher, reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network was at the hearings. He gave us an update on the newest version of this legislation and just how this would work for folks who collect welfare benefits from the state.

Listen to the full interview above.

Read more
Politics & Government
3:50 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

Welfare drug testing bill moves forward in state House

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Lawmakers in Lansing have moved forward a bill to start drug testing welfare recipients. A state House panel today  sent the legislation to the full chamber.

Under the bill, the state would have to have reasonable suspicion before requiring a test. Cash assistance benefits could be terminated for people who test positive.

Republican Representative Jeff Farrington introduced the legislation. He says the government should not pay for people’s drug habits.

Read more
Politics & Government
7:58 am
Wed April 17, 2013

The week in Michigan politics: Roads funding, lottery and welfare, human rights in Royal Oak

cncphotos flickr

This week in Michigan politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss funding proposals to fix Michigan’s roads, the number of lottery winners on welfare, and how a human rights ordinance is moving forward in Royal Oak.

Read more
Politics & Government
7:18 am
Tue April 16, 2013

In this morning's news: spending cuts, lottery winners on welfare, Lansing Marathon boosts security

Morning News Roundup, Tuesday, April 16, 2013
User: Brother O'Mara Flickr

Federal cuts to affect schools

"The state of Michigan doesn't plan to lay off any of its 48,000 workers because of automatic federal spending cuts. [But] federal education funding will drop $54 million and affect special education programs, after-school programs and aid for schools with more students in poverty," the Associated Press reports.

14 percent of lottery winners are on welfare or live with someone on welfare

Michigan has found 3,500 lottery winners, representing around 14 percent of all winners, who either got welfare or lived with welfare recipients. As the Associated Press reports, "Human Services Director Maura Corrigan says some lottery winners are no longer getting public assistance because of the law signed a year ago. But she says 'loopholes' still let lottery winners collect some Medicaid benefits."
 

Lansing Marathon ramps up security

"The two thousand runners expected to take part in this Sunday’s Lansing Marathon can expect to see tight security along the 26.2 mile course. The added security is in response to Monday’s deadly bombing at the finish of the Boston Marathon," Steve Carmody reports.

Politics & Government
8:19 pm
Mon April 15, 2013

Hundreds of Michigan lottery winners lose their welfare benefits

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The state kicked more than 500 people off food assistance and other welfare programs over the past 12 months because they won the Lottery.

But, a member of Governor Rick Snyder’s cabinet wants thousands more people be kicked off public assistance because of their Lottery winnings.

A new report says 14% of Lottery winners in Michigan live in a household where someone is on public assistance. There’s a law that requires the state to check the name of everyone who wins more than a thousand dollars against the rolls for many programs.

Read more
Politics & Government
7:48 am
Wed March 13, 2013

In this morning's news: Detroit City Council appeal, sex offender registry, drug tests for welfare

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Detroit Mayor Bing says appeal unlikely to halt an EM

"Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says the City Council's appeal of Gov. Rick Snyder's determination that there's no plan to solve Detroit's financial emergency is unlikely to halt an emergency manager's appointment. Bing says he endorses the council's assertions that a viable restructuring plan is in place, and he released a progress report on the plan Tuesday," the Associated Press reports.

Governor Snyder signs bill to add more people to sex offender registry

"More people will be added to Michigan's public sex offender registry under a bill signed by Gov. Rick Snyder.  The bill signed Tuesday will require people convicted of a single Tier I offense for some crimes involving minors to be placed on the online registry. Offenses that qualify include possessing child pornography and surveillance of a minor," the Associated Press reports.

Bill would require welfare recipients to pass drug tests

"Michigan lawmakers are planning to consider a bill that would require welfare applicants and recipients to pass drug tests. [The] legislation being considered . . .  would establish a program of suspicion-based substance abuse screening and testing for Family Independence Program applicants and recipients who are at least 18 years old," the Associated Press reports.

Politics & Government
3:39 pm
Thu December 6, 2012

A 'nail in the coffin' for efforts to stop welfare changes in Michigan?

Poverty has doubled in Livingston County over the last 5 years
SamPac creative commons

Bridge Magazine's Ron French reports on legislation that could be "a nail in the coffin" for efforts to halt welfare rule changes in Michigan."

The effort to remove 15,000 families from cash assistance in Michigan was billed as a cost-cutting measure. A necessary step for a state "that can no longer afford" to pay the benefits.

Read more
Economy
4:32 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

Stateside: Welfare benefit reform takes effect, thousands in Michigan are impacted

Michigan's welfare reform impacted nearly 15,000 families
user Penywise morguefile

Nine months after a Michigan welfare reform was implemented, the number of Michigan families receiving state checks plummeted to the lowest level in more than 40 years.

More than 9,000 Michigan families were removed from cash assistance last fall, a number that has recently grown to 15,000.

Ron French, writer for Bridge Magazine, addressed the cuts.

“Last fall, the legislature reformed welfare in a way that put time limits on welfare recipients. The legislature wanted to enforce a limit of 48 months on welfare recipients. The legislature and governor wanted to move more people to the workforce," said French.

"But what happened is that the Department of Human Services took it a step further and really kicked off more people than would have been otherwise."

Michigan Radio’s Lester Graham noted the effect the cuts had on families’ ability to pay essential bills.

“Suddenly we saw 11,000 families kicked off of cash assistance, which meant they couldn’t pay their utilities or rent,” said Graham.

Read more

Pages