Bill aims to toughen work requirements for TANF benefits

Posted at 5:06 PM, Jan 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-17 20:02:42-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (The News Service of Florida) - Floridians getting public assistance would face more stringent work requirements to keep their entitlements, under a measure moving in the Florida House of Representatives.

The House Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee signed off on a plan that could take away Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, benefits for people who do not meet work requirements.

State Representative Dane Eagle is the bill sponsor. He says the goal of the bill is to help people find employment and get back on their feet.

“For those who refuse to comply, and just don’t want to work with us and continue this partnership, there’s no reason we should be giving them cash handouts," said State Rep. Dane Eagle, R- Cape Coral. "We want to help people and give them a hand up, not a handout.

Opponents of the legislation like Cindy Huddleston with Florida Legal Services say entitlement program requirements are already strict, and the bill will affect the most vulnerable.

“Upping the ante is unnecessary for the TANF program," said Cindy Huddleston with Florida Legal Services. "It really can only result in harm to children.” 

Additionally, the bill would charge food stamp users for new debit cards, if they lose theirs more than five times in a year. Bill supporters say this is an attempt to stop people from selling food stamp debit cards on the black market.

The legislation would also expand the list of businesses where food stamp electronic benefit transfer cards are not accepted to include medical marijuana dispensaries, tobacco shops and tattoo parlors.