Adequate Funding of Essential Programs in the General Fund
LWVAL Action Priority Level I (Highest) - Monitoring and action of highest priority. Major area for resource expenditures.
Click a bill to see sponsor(s), summary (including link to full text), League action and justification for that action, and progress of the bill through the legislative process.
Legend: = LWVAL's support for the legislation. = LWVAL's opposition to the legislation. = new bill activity; change from previous week's report such as new progress in the legislature and/or League action. Bill may be one newly added to the report. These updates are in green font.
LWVAL has taken a position on these bills:
SB136 (Constitutional Amendment) - Medicaid, funding through General Fund, additional 5 mill statewide levy in ad valorem tax distributed for Medicaid purposes, const. amend.
Sponsor(s): Senators Figures, Dunn, Ross, Beasley, Singleton, Coleman-Madison and Sanders
Summary/Synopsis: Currently, the state levies a 6.5 mill annual ad valorem tax on the assessed value of taxable property in the state. This bill would propose a constitutional amendment to levy an additional five (5) mill annual state ad valorem tax. The net proceeds of the additional levy would be distributed to the State General Fund for Medicaid purposes.
Our Medicaid program is chronically underfunded and has not been able to serve all Alabama citizens effectively. The League position states that access to basic health care is a universal human right and is not dependent on the individual’s ability to pay for it. One of our legislative priorities is to adequately fund essential state programs in the General Fund. The property tax is one of the most fair and stable sources of programmatic funding and therefore seems to be the best way to support our Medicaid program.
SB 285 - Public assistance, revised procedures and limitations required for various public assistance programs administered by the Human Resources Dept.
Sponsor(s): Senator Orr Summary/Synopsis: This bill attempts to reduce public benefit fraud by imposing draconian restrictions including the following: TANF (traditional welfare) payments limited to 3 years (currently it is 5 years); placing a photograph of the recipient on EBT (electronic benefits transfer) card; instituting additional checks to verify residence and citizenship; monitors and restricts out-of-state payments using TANF benefits, etc.
League Action and Justification: Oppose These measures violate LWVAL’s position on the Department of Human Resources which encourages adequate state funding to support families in need with the understanding that the federal government will continue to provide the majority of funding for these programs. This bill with its extra scrutiny of benefit recipients additionally represents an unfunded mandate since it requires measures costing additional money without allocating any new funds to pay for them. Obviously the costs of these measures will come from the underfunded Department of Human Resources at the expense of its clients. Bill Progress in Legislature: 02/23/2015: First reading and referred to the Senate Committee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development (FR&ED). 03/10/2015: 2nd Read and placed on calendar with 1 Substitute (175489—3); FR&ED 1st Substitute Offered: pending 3rd Read and Favorable from FR&ED with 1 Substitute 04/28/2016: Indefinitely postponed.
HB438 - Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program benefits, waiver by status of work requirements to receive, prohibited
Sponsor(s): Representatives Hanes, Whorton (R), Williams (JW), Nordgren, Butler, Rich, Pettus, Fridy, Hill (M), Weaver, Sessions, Shiver, Mooney, Henry and Ledbetter
Summary/Synopsis: This bill would require the Department of Human Resources to establish its own work training program for SNAP (food stamps) recipients and create individualized plans for these recipients to become more self-sufficient. It also prohibits DHR from allowing a waiver of work requirements for “able-bodied” SNAP recipients (which the federal law allows in certain circumstances). Other elements of the bill also go against federal law which takes precedence.
This is an unfunded mandate for an underfunded agency. It attempts to usurp the power of the federal government to regulate programs that it creates and funds. It would end automatic eligibility authorized through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program and thereby hurt both children and the disabled and others. The time required to go through the application process would increase and have a negative impact on those in need. And, there are more negatives.
Bill Progress in Legislature:
03/17/2016: Read for the first time and referred to the House Committee on State Government (SG). 04/13/2016: 2nd Read and placed on the calendar with 1 Amendment (176868-2); pending 3rd Read and Favorable from SG with 1 Amendment; State Government first Amendment Offered
Note: The amendment requires the Commissioner of the Department of Human Resources to provide the Legislature a yearly report assessing the SNAP benefit program in the state. At minimum the report must include: the number of recipients of SNAP benefits who are able-bodied adults without dependents, including the number of those individuals who are working at least 20 hours per week; the number of those who are participating in the work training program; and the number of those who are participating in volunteer community service activities. Beginning with the second yearly report comparative data must be included as well as information on the availability of volunteer community service opportunities for recipients of SNAP benefits who are able-bodied adults without dependents, particularly in areas of the state that would otherwise be eligible for a waiver under federal law, and information on the success of the work training program in assisting able-bodied adult SNAP recipients without dependents to gain long-term, meaningful employment.
04/28/2016: Indefinitely postponed.
HB498 - Public assistance, revised procedures and limitations required for various public assistance programs administered by the Human Resources Dept.
Sponsor(s): Sponsored by Reps. Mooney, Weaver, Hanes, Williams (JW), Butler, Ainsworth, Whorton (I), Fridy, Whorton (R), Wingo, Holmes (M), Henry, Crawford, Carns and Drake
Summary/Synopsis: This legislation Imposes draconian requirements and limits on the Department of Human Resources as it implements various public assistance programs. Like HB438 and (sponsored by some of the same Representatives and which LWVAL opposes) it eliminates waivers in the work requirement for food stamps recipients, it prohibits categorical qualifications for receiving food stamps (for example, the homeless teenagers living on their own now automatically qualify for food stamps since they aren’t living with their birth families and must rely on the kindness of others to feed themselves). It requires DHR to place a photograph of the recipient on EBT cards, etc. There are requirements that the state Medicaid Agency ramp up its scrutiny of Medicaid recipients’ identity verification, assets, and earnings. These requirements are followed by sanctions (removal from the benefits list for varying lengths of time) for non-compliance with these requirements.
League Action & Justification: Oppose for same reasons we oppose HB438 – unfunded mandates on financially strapped state agency and it also usurps the power of the federal government to regulate its own programs.
League Action and Justification: Monitor Regional Care Organizations to provide care to Medicaid patients have been created as a cost-saving measure. Currently 11 such organizations are in a probationary period of operation. With the bare-bones currently budget under discussion and the diversity of the organizations given their locations, Medicaid may not be able to operate within these limits.