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Legislative Notes for March 27, 2014

March 21, 2014

This was one of the busiest weeks of the session to date. Twenty-two House bills or Senate amendments passed this week. There were a large variety of topics and the creation of a number of new legislative studies. Many of these bills were not controversial and I supported passage.

The entire time I have served in the legislature my goal has always been to make a difference for my constituents. I am happy to report that I voted affirmatively on a bill that will likely make a very positive difference for many of my constituents and eventually reduce state spending. Under current law, people that receive temporary assistance for needy families otherwise known as reach up benefits are forced to live within the confines of a system with no chance to improve financially for fear of losing essential benefits. Referred to as the benefits cliff these prohibitive guidelines discouraged people in this situation from going to work. If someone on the program were to get a job they would likely lose all of their benefits. Most people would not have the ability to find a job that would pay more than the value of the benefits they would lose. Why would anyone in this situation go to work?

The bill we passed this week to address this issue, H.790 Reach Up eligibility was a bipartisan effort. This bill incents people to go to work while on these programs by allowing them to benefit financially. It establishes new guidelines that allow people to go to work while maintaining benefits, reducing them on a sliding scale as the income level increases. There is no new funding required for this program and it will likely reduce the overall operating costs of this program in the state budget in future years. However, I feel that the most important aspects of the bill are that it frees people from this vicious economic cycle and it provides them opportunity to improve their financial situation. Finally, a bill that strikes a reasonable balance between what people need and what the state can afford.

I look forward to representing you and your concerns in Montpelier. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments or concerns. I am very interested in hearing from you. During the session, I can be reached at the Statehouse by calling 1-800-322-5616 or by cell at 373-5960. My email address is dturner@leg.state.vt.us. My web-site address is http://www.donturnerjr.com. Thank you and have a great week.

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