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Community service required to get welfare in Michigan. Edit in Blue.

Posted by on Sep. 18, 2013 at 9:42 PM
  • 105 Replies

Your thoughts?

LANSING — State lawmakers passed bills Wednesday that would deny unemployment benefits to people who refuse to take drug tests required by employers.

It also would require community service for people receiving government assistance.

The drug testing bill, which passed the House Commerce Committee on a 12-4 vote with three Democrats passing on the issue, would deny unemployment benefits for people who either refused to take a drug test required by an employer or tested positive.

The community service bill, which passed the state Senate on a 27-9 vote would require people receiving food stamps or other welfare benefits to perform community service in order to get the money.

Republicans called the bills common sense.

“There is absolutely nothing wrong with requiring folks to have a little skin in the game,” said state Sen. Joe Hune, R-Hamburg Township. “All they have to do is a little community service to get their benefits.”

But Democrats said the measures target low-income people for merely political purposes leading into the 2014 election season. The bills continue a trend that began earlier this year with proposed legislation that targets benefit recipients for suspicion-based drug testing and allows for the denial of benefits if a child is truant from school. Those bills have passed the House and await action in the Senate.

“Wholesale drug testing without suspicion is simply illegal,” said Shelli Weisberg, spokeswoman for the ACLU in Michigan. “If we’re going down the road of drug testing for people who receive benefits, then we better start drug testing legislators.”

State Rep. Jon Switalski, D-Warren, offered an amendment to the drug testing bill that would do just that. It failed.

“If the majority feels that drug testing for people on the public dole is good policy, then it’s clearly in the interest of good public policy to test all of us on the public dole,” he said. “But this is a bill about the elections in 2014 and nothing else.”

Anti-tax activist Bill McMaster said the bills don’t take into account Michigan’s overwhelming support in a 2008 ballot initiative for the use of medical marijuana.

“It’s somewhat mysterious to me that you’re trying to eliminate the will of the people on the medical marijuana front,” he said. “A good number of people are employed successfully who are using medical marijuana.”

State Sen. Vincent Gregory, D-Southfield, said it didn’t make sense to make someone like a single mother to have to pay child care costs while performing state required community service. He offered an amendment, which ultimately failed, that would require the Department of Human Service to pick up child care costs while parents are doing community service.

“We need to give residents a helping hand and not force them to do other things to get assistance from the state,” he said.

The drug testing bill (HB 4952) now moves to the full House of Representatives. While the community service bill (SB276) moves to the House for consideration.

Here are some links to this story as it's unfolding:

ABC News

USA Today

Editorial from Battle Creek Enquirer 


by on Sep. 18, 2013 at 9:42 PM
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Replies (1-10):
-Celestial-
by Pepperlynn on Sep. 18, 2013 at 9:47 PM
3 moms liked this


The state will decide where the people will do the community service and how much. Hell, if they have a job for him/her to do hire them full time pay them actual money.

KGreen75
by Bronze Member on Sep. 18, 2013 at 9:48 PM
3 moms liked this
Good! Should be required in all states (unless you are physically disabled)
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SyllabaryBisque
by Bronze Member on Sep. 18, 2013 at 9:50 PM
6 moms liked this
I don't see anything wrong with community service in exchange for government assistance, but that's just me.
pendragon928
by New Member on Sep. 18, 2013 at 9:55 PM
2 moms liked this

It's about time, it's quid pro quo. Why not require welfare recipients to work in some form for their benefits, not only does it teach them to be accountable, but it improves their community, it allows them to participate in their community and ultimately it could allow them to make connections that could lead to employment and getting off the dole (and I'm giving the benefit of the doubt that they DO want to get off the dole).

LavenderMom23
by Bronze Member on Sep. 18, 2013 at 9:56 PM
1 mom liked this

Community service sounds like a good idea if someone is simply 'using' the system. But for those of us with 5 kids, a job, a college student, and already active in the church community (which I'm sure won't count) it's damn near impossible to better ourselves and work for free for the government. Drug testing however is good, no one needs to be using drugs.

ashleyrenee24
by Ashley on Sep. 18, 2013 at 10:00 PM
4 moms liked this
Even for those that work?
AtiFreeFalls
by Silver Member on Sep. 18, 2013 at 10:02 PM
4 moms liked this

 Why do so many people talk about welfare recipeients like children?  "It teaches them blah blah blah"... I find that insulting. 

As for the bill, I'm not sure how I feel about it.  In theory the idea of helping out the community when you can in return for the community helping you seems fair, but it seems to me that the idea behind this is to try to further degrade people and make them feel even worse for needing help.  Not to mention logistics problems.  What if they don't have transportation or child care for the community service?  I know when I needed help I couldn't pay for a babysitter.  I had a car, but going to pick up trash on a highway or help out at a homeless shelter would have been a huge obstacle for me. 

Quoting pendragon928:

It's about time, it's quid pro quo. Why not require welfare recipients to work in some form for their benefits, not only does it teach them to be accountable, but it improves their community, it allows them to participate in their community and ultimately it could allow them to make connections that could lead to employment and getting off the dole (and I'm giving the benefit of the doubt that they DO want to get off the dole).

 

2Gs
by Member on Sep. 18, 2013 at 10:04 PM
6 moms liked this

I agree.  It makes the assumption that welfare recipiants are able bodied people, with time on their hands and transportation.  I makes me feel like the lawmakers think the majority of recipiants are deadbeats.

Quoting LavenderMom23:

Community service sounds like a good idea if someone is simply 'using' the system. But for those of us with 5 kids, a job, a college student, and already active in the church community (which I'm sure won't count) it's damn near impossible to better ourselves and work for free for the government. Drug testing however is good, no one needs to be using drugs.


krysstizzle
by DeepThought on Sep. 18, 2013 at 10:05 PM
13 moms liked this

Sooo....are they doing the same thing for corporate welfare? Giant agribusiness subsidies? Are auto industry big-wigs required to do community service? How about those on Wallstreet and in the banking industry? Companies with huge tax breaks coming into the state?

What's good for the goose....right?

fireangel5
by Gold Member on Sep. 18, 2013 at 10:09 PM
4 moms liked this

I am not against drug testing legislators at all. Many jobs have drug testing, often times random. 


“Wholesale drug testing without suspicion is simply illegal,” said Shelli Weisberg, spokeswoman for the ACLU in Michigan. “If we’re going down the road of drug testing for people who receive benefits, then we better start drug testing legislators.”

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