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ST. PAUL, MN—Legislators unveiled Monday a new proposal to bolster Minnesota's workforce and lift Minnesotans out of poverty by implementing work or job training requirements for able-bodied adults currently on Medical Assistance, Minnesota's version of Medicaid. The requirements would not apply to a child's sole caregiver, or anyone with a disability, certain medical diagnoses, addictions, or other barriers to employment.
"Despite our strong economy, enrollment on public welfare programs is growing and too many Minnesotans are getting left behind," said Rep. Kelly Fenton, R-Woodbury, who is chief authoring the bill in the House. "Most Minnesotans agree that if you are an able-bodied adult who is not at home taking care of your child, it's reasonable to expect that you should be working, looking for work, or in a job training program. Minnesota now has more job openings than job seekers—this legislation will help lift people out of poverty, off of welfare programs, and give thousands of Minnesotans the skills they need to succeed in our economy."
Under the proposed legislation, able-bodied adults who are not the sole caretaker of a child would be required to work or be engaged in community or public service for at least 80 hours per month, be seeking employment, or enrolled in a job training program. Nearly identical requirements are already in place for SNAP at the federal level, meaning anyone who is meeting the requirements for the SNAP program would fulfill the requirements under the proposed legislation.
“In the face of a robust economy we’ve seen enrollment in Medical Assistance continue to grow steadily encouraging more and more Minnesotans to rely on government aid,” said Sen. Mark Johnson, R-East Grand Forks, “Our legislation ensures that we continue to incentivize work, education, and community engagement in order to help individuals and families regain their independence and escape the downward spiral of poverty and welfare.”
The bill is co-authored in the House by Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, who noted at Monday's press conference that enrollment for public programs has expanded dramatically under the Dayton administration.
"We should be looking to lift Minnesotans up and reduce enrollment on welfare, but we can't just cross our fingers and hope it happens. We need policies that encourage Minnesotans to seek job opportunities and training programs that will grow paychecks," Speaker Daudt added.
The House version of the bill is set to be introduced during Wednesday's legislative session. The Senate version of the bill was introduced on Monday.
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