State of Washington
65th Legislature
2017 Regular Session
By Senator Braun
Read first time 03/21/17. Referred to Committee on Ways & Means.
AN ACT Relating to eligibility for public assistance programs; amending RCW 74.08A.260 and 74.62.030; and adding a new section to chapter 74.08A RCW.
Sec. 1.  RCW 74.08A.260 and 2011 1st sp.s. c 42 s 2 are each amended to read as follows:
(1) Each recipient shall be assessed after determination of program eligibility and before referral to job search. Assessments shall be based upon factors that are critical to obtaining employment, including but not limited to education, availability of child care, history of family violence, history of substance abuse, and other factors that affect the ability to obtain employment. Assessments may be performed by the department or by a contracted entity. The assessment shall be based on a uniform, consistent, transferable format that will be accepted by all agencies and organizations serving the recipient.
(2) Based on the assessment, an individual responsibility plan shall be prepared that: (a) Sets forth an employment goal and a plan for maximizing the recipient's success at meeting the employment goal; (b) considers WorkFirst educational and training programs from which the recipient could benefit; (c) contains the obligation of the recipient to participate in the program by complying with the plan; (d) moves the recipient into full-time WorkFirst activities as quickly as possible; and (e) describes the services available to the recipient either during or after WorkFirst to enable the recipient to obtain and keep employment and to advance in the workplace and increase the recipient's wage earning potential over time.
(3) Recipients who are not engaged in work and work activities, and do not qualify for a good cause exemption under RCW 74.08A.270, shall engage in self-directed service as provided in RCW 74.08A.330.
(4) If a recipient refuses to engage in work and work activities required by the department, the family's grant shall be reduced by the recipient's share, and may, if the department determines it appropriate, be terminated.
(5) The department may waive the penalties required under subsection (4) of this section, subject to a finding that the recipient refused to engage in work for good cause provided in RCW 74.08A.270.
(6) In consultation with the recipient, the department or contractor shall place the recipient into a work activity that is available in the local area where the recipient resides.
(7) Assessments conducted under this section shall include a consideration of the potential benefit to the recipient of engaging in financial literacy activities. The department shall consider the options for financial literacy activities available in the community, including information and resources available through the financial education public-private partnership created under RCW 28A.300.450. The department may authorize up to ten hours of financial literacy activities as a core activity or an optional activity under WorkFirst.
(8)(a) ((From July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2012,)) Subsections (2) through (6) of this section are suspended for a recipient who is a parent or other relative personally providing care for ((one)) a child under the age of two years((, or two or more children under the age of six years)). This suspension applies to both one and two parent families. However, both parents in a two-parent family cannot use the suspension during the same month. ((Beginning July 1, 2012, the department shall phase in the work activity requirements that were suspended, beginning with those recipients closest to reaching the sixty-month limit of receiving temporary assistance for needy families under RCW 74.08A.010(1). The phase in shall be accomplished so that a fairly equal number of recipients required to participate in work activities are returned to those activities each month until the total number required to participate is participating by June 30, 2013.)) Nothing in this subsection shall prevent a recipient from participating in the WorkFirst program on a voluntary basis. ((Recipients who participate in the WorkFirst program on a voluntary basis shall be provided an option to participate in the program on a part-time basis, consisting of sixteen or fewer hours of activities per week. Recipients also may participate voluntarily on a full-time basis.))
(b)(i) The period of suspension of work activities under this subsection provides an opportunity for the legislative and executive branches to oversee redesign of the WorkFirst program. To realize this opportunity, both during the period of suspension and following reinstatement of work activity requirements as redesign is being implemented, a legislative-executive WorkFirst oversight task force is established, with members as provided in this subsection (8)(b).
(ii) The president of the senate shall appoint two members from each of the two largest caucuses of the senate.
(iii) The speaker of the house of representatives shall appoint two members from each of the two largest caucuses of the house of representatives.
(iv) The governor shall appoint members representing the department of social and health services, the department of early learning, the department of commerce, the employment security department, the office of financial management, and the state board for community and technical colleges.
(v) The task force shall choose cochairs, one from among the legislative members and one from among the executive branch members. The legislative members shall convene the initial meeting of the task force.
(c) The task force shall:
(i) Oversee the partner agencies' implementation of the redesign of the WorkFirst program and operation of the temporary assistance for needy families program to ensure that the programs are achieving desired outcomes for their clients;
(ii) Determine evidence-based outcome measures for the WorkFirst program, including measures related to equitably serving the needs of historically underrepresented populations, such as English language learners, immigrants, refugees, and other diverse communities;
(iii) Develop accountability measures for WorkFirst recipients and the state agencies responsible for their progress toward self-sufficiency;
(iv) Make recommendations to the governor and the legislature regarding:
(A) Policies to improve the effectiveness of the WorkFirst program over time;
(B) Early identification of those recipients most likely to experience long stays on the program and strategies to improve their ability to achieve progress toward self-sufficiency; and
(C) Necessary changes to the program, including taking into account federal changes to the temporary assistance for needy families program.
(d) The partner agencies must provide the task force with regular reports on:
(i) The partner agencies' progress toward meeting the outcome and performance measures established under (c) of this subsection;
(ii) Caseload trends and program expenditures, and the impact of those trends and expenditures on client services, including services to historically underrepresented populations; and
(iii) The characteristics of families who have been unsuccessful on the program and have lost their benefits either through sanction or the sixty-month time limit.
(e) Staff support for the task force must be provided by senate committee services, the house of representatives office of program research, and the state agency members of the task force.
(f) The task force shall meet on a quarterly basis beginning September 2011, or as determined necessary by the task force cochairs.
(g) During its tenure, the state agency members of the task force shall respond in a timely manner to data requests from the cochairs.
Sec. 2.  RCW 74.62.030 and 2013 2nd sp.s. c 10 s 2 are each amended to read as follows:
(1)(a) Effective November 1, 2011, the aged, blind, or disabled assistance program shall provide financial grants to persons in need who:
(i) Are not eligible to receive federal aid assistance, other than basic food benefits transferred electronically and medical assistance;
(ii) Meet the eligibility requirements of subsection (3) of this section; and
(iii) Are aged, blind, or disabled. For purposes of determining eligibility for assistance for the aged, blind, or disabled assistance program, the following definitions apply:
(A) "Aged" means age sixty-five or older.
(B) "Blind" means statutorily blind as defined for the purpose of determining eligibility for the federal supplemental security income program.
(C) "Disabled" means likely to meet the federal supplemental security income disability standard. In making this determination, the department should give full consideration to the cumulative impact of an applicant's multiple impairments, an applicant's age, and vocational and educational history.
In determining whether a person is disabled, the department may rely on, but is not limited to, the following:
(I) A previous disability determination by the social security administration or the disability determination service entity within the department; or
(II) A determination that an individual is eligible to receive optional categorically needy medicaid as a disabled person under the federal regulations at 42 C.F.R. Parts 435, Secs. 201(a)(3) and 210.
(b) The following persons are not eligible for the aged, blind, or disabled assistance program:
(i) Persons who are not able to engage in gainful employment due primarily to alcohol or drug addiction. These persons shall be referred to appropriate assessment, treatment, shelter, or supplemental security income referral services as authorized under chapter 74.50 RCW. Referrals shall be made at the time of application or at the time of eligibility review. This subsection may not be construed to prohibit the department from granting aged, blind, or disabled assistance benefits to alcoholics and drug addicts who are incapacitated due to other physical or mental conditions that meet the eligibility criteria for the aged, blind, or disabled assistance program; or
(ii) Persons for whom there has been a final determination of ineligibility for federal supplemental security income benefits.
(c) Persons may receive aged, blind, or disabled assistance benefits pending application for federal supplemental security income benefits for up to thirty-six months. The monetary value of any aged, blind, or disabled assistance benefit that is subsequently duplicated by the person's receipt of supplemental security income for the same period shall be considered a debt due the state and shall by operation of law be subject to recovery through all available legal remedies.
(2) Effective November 1, 2011, the pregnant women assistance program shall provide financial grants to persons who:
(a) Are not eligible to receive federal aid assistance other than basic food benefits or medical assistance; and
(b) Are pregnant and in need, based upon the current income and resource standards of the federal temporary assistance for needy families program, but are ineligible for federal temporary assistance for needy families benefits for a reason other than failure to cooperate in program requirements; and
(c) Meet the eligibility requirements of subsection (3) of this section.
(3) To be eligible for the aged, blind, or disabled assistance program under subsection (1) of this section or the pregnant women assistance program under subsection (2) of this section, a person must:
(a) Be a citizen or alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence or otherwise residing in the United States under color of law;
(b) Meet the income and resource standards described in RCW 74.04.805(1) (d) and (e);
(c) Have furnished the department his or her social security number. If the social security number cannot be furnished because it has not been issued or is not known, an application for a number shall be made prior to authorization of benefits, and the social security number shall be provided to the department upon receipt;
(d) Not have refused or failed without good cause to participate in drug or alcohol treatment if an assessment by a certified chemical dependency counselor indicates a need for such treatment. Good cause must be found to exist when a person's physical or mental condition, as determined by the department, prevents the person from participating in drug or alcohol dependency treatment, when needed outpatient drug or alcohol treatment is not available to the person in the county of his or her residence or when needed inpatient treatment is not available in a location that is reasonably accessible for the person; and
(e) Not have refused or failed to cooperate in obtaining federal aid assistance, without good cause.
(4) Effective November 1, 2011, referrals for essential needs and housing support under RCW 43.185C.220 shall be provided to persons found eligible under RCW 74.04.805.
(5) No person may be considered an eligible individual for benefits under this section with respect to any month if during that month the person:
(a) Is fleeing to avoid prosecution of, or to avoid custody or confinement for conviction of, a felony, or an attempt to commit a felony, under the laws of the state of Washington or the place from which the person flees; or
(b) Is violating a condition of probation, community supervision, or parole imposed under federal or state law for a felony or gross misdemeanor conviction.
NEW SECTION.  Sec. 3.  A new section is added to chapter 74.08A RCW to read as follows:
All individuals shall demonstrate to the department that a job search has been conducted prior to applying for assistance in the Washington temporary assistance for needy families program. The department shall adopt rules for the implementation of this section.
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